About Codex

C O D E X  A L I M E N T A R I U S  is about safe, good food for everyone - everywhere.


International food trade has existed for thousands of years but until not too long ago food was mainly produced, sold and consumed locally. Over the last century the amount of food traded internationally has grown exponentially, and a quantity and variety of food never before possible travels the globe today.


The C O D E X  A L I M E N T A R I U S international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice contribute to the safety, quality and fairness of this international food trade. Consumers can trust the safety and quality of the food products they buy and importers can trust that the food they ordered will be in accordance with their specifications.




Public concerns about food safety issues are often placing Codex at the centre of global debates. Biotechnology, pesticides, food additives and contaminants are some of the issues discussed in Codex meetings. Codex standards are based on the best available science assisted by independent international risk assessment bodies or ad-hoc consultations organized by FAO and WHO.

While being recommendations for voluntary application by members, Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation.


The reference made to Codex food safety standards in the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS Agreement) means that Codex has far reaching implications for resolving trade disputes. WTO members that wish to apply stricter food safety measures than those set by Codex may be required to justify these measures scientifically.

Codex members cover 99% of the world's population. More and more developing countries are taking an active part in the Codex process - in many cases assisted by the Codex Trust Fund, which strives to finance - and train - participants from such countries to enable efficient participation. Being an active member of Codex helps countries to compete in sophisticated world markets - and to improve food safety for their own population. At the same time exporters know what importers demand, and importers are protected from substandard shipments.


International governmental and non-governmental organizations can become accredited Codex observers to provide expert information, advice and assistance to the Commission.

Since its beginnings in 1963, the Codex system has evolved in an open, transparent and inclusive way to meet emerging challenges. International food trade is a 200 billion dollar a year industry, with billions of tonnes of food produced, marketed and transported.

There is a lot at stake for protecting consumers' health and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.
All information on Codex is public and free. For any questions please contact the Codex Secretariat.

Updated on: 18-08-2016
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