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Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (CCFAC)

FAO/WHO ID No:CX_711
Reference:CX/FAC
Terms of Reference:(a) to establish or endorse permitted maximum or guideline levels for individual food additives, for contaminants (including environmental contaminants) and for naturally occurring toxicants in foodstuffs and animal feeds;
Status:Renamed and restablished
Host:Netherlands

Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (CCFAC)


The Codex Committee on Food Additives was established at the inception of the Codex Alimentarius in 1963, with terms of reference requiring it to “consider the draft lists of acceptable food additives together with the reports of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) upon which they are based … and to survey and designate wherever possible proposed maximum levels of use for these additives in individual foods.” The Netherlands was named as host.

In 1987, the word ‘contaminants’ was added to the committee’s name, reflecting the fact that it had, at that stage, also been addressing issues of contaminants and pollutants for over 20 years. CCFAC then split into separate committees in 2006.

In broad terms, Codex regards additives as constituents that are intentionally added to food during production and processing. They include preservatives, colours, flavourings, antioxidants, bleaching or maturing agents, emulsifiers, enzymes, stabilizers, thickeners, salt and even smoke. Contaminants are regarded as constituents that enter a food product, for example, from the environment or from food packaging, and that need to be analysed and controlled for health reasons. These include pollutants such as heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic or mycotoxins. In 1969, it was agreed that irradiation fell within the remit of CCFAC and with the 1987 Chernobyl accident, radionuclides in food became a pressing issue for the committee. In the late 1970s, dioxins and PCBs were recognized as falling within CCFAC’s scope of work.

CCFAC worked closely with relevant commodity committees to ensure all standards conformed with established safe levels of additives and contaminants. The committee also worked particularly closely with the Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL) to ensure consumers were correctly and clearly informed about additives in food.

In 1991, CAC19 rejected the idea of splitting the work of CCFAC into one committee for food additives and another for contaminants. However, over time, with the increase in the number of additives used in food and growing problems around contamination, due to pollution and changing dietary habits, a split became inevitable. In 2006 a new Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF) was established and CCFAC was renamed as the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA).


CCFAC Terms of Reference

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