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Countdown to first virtual Codex Alimentarius Commission


Usually in the build-up to the Codex Alimentarius Commission annual meeting, hundreds of delegates would be beginning to travel, sometimes halfway around the globe, to attend a whole week of plenary meetings in either Geneva or Rome.

This year, as CAC43 gets underway on 24 September 2020, the logistic preparations will be more concerned with Wi-Fi access and webcams than visas and lost luggage. With an expected participation of over 600 Codex Members and Observers the pressure is on the Codex Secretariat to deliver a successful event adopting the standards on the agenda and testing new ways of working for the future.

Codex Secretary Tom Heilandt will be travelling to Brussels to run the meeting alongside the Chairperson of the Commission, Guilherme Da Costa, Brazil. Heilandt will be without the physical presence of the team of Food Standards Officers and support staff who usually ensure the smooth running of proceedings.

“We have trialed this virtual format with the Executive Committee and also through training webinars but working on this scale is new territory for us”, he said.

The Commission has been divided into sessions of three hours on 24, 25, 26 September and 12 October 2020, with adoption of the report on 19 October 2020. The meeting will begin each day at 12:00 CET. This compromise time still involves some countries having to work very early in the day in places like Peru and late at night in the South-West Pacific. “I have been extremely proud of the response of the Codex family to our request for collaboration and cooperation in supporting preparatory meetings and this Commission taking place. I believe that this continued commitment will allow us to adopt our standards and have a successful session”, said Heilandt.

Many countries will be attending with sizeable delegations – one of the advantages and opportunities of a virtual meeting – and with numerous first-time attendees. Countries will have to decide on adoption of 17 new Codex texts and seven proposals for new work. Highlights of the meeting include decisions on a revision of the General Principles of Food Hygiene; a code of practice on food allergen management for food business operators, as well as standards for garlic, kiwifruit, cassava-based products, mixed zaatar, chili sauce and kava.

New work proposals on guidelines for supporting the development of harmonized food laws in Africa and guidelines on the safe use and reuse of water in food production will also be discussed.


Read more

Details of how to follow the meeting live and all documents available on the CAC43 website.

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