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The science behind Codex standards


A side event about the FAO/WHO Scientific Advice Programmes

Delegates gained a better understanding of how FAO and WHO provide scientific support for the development of Codex standards during a CAC41 side event. Panellists described how the requests for scientific advice for food safety and nutrition are managed, how the experts are selected and the way the topics are chosen for the risk assessments.

The panel, comprised of FAO and WHO officers, also explained the links between the FAO/WHO Scientific Advice Programmes and the various Codex committees.

Markus Lipp, Senior Food Safety and Quality Officer, FAO, and Angelika Tritscher, Coordinator Risk Assessment and Management, WHO, described the process that the various international risk assessment bodies, led by the two UN organizations, employ to deliver the scientific advice requested by Codex Committees as the basis for the preparation of standards. This process involves the publication of a call for data, seeking experts, conducting risk assessments and objectively arriving at conclusions. 

Chizuru Nishida and Maria Xipsiti, nutrition experts with WHO and FAO, respectively, presented JEMNU. This new body aims to strengthen the role of FAO and WHO in providing scientific advice on nutrition to Member States and bodies such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Another key message that emerged from the side event was the fact that trade needs to have a common language for the parties to understand one another. Referring to compound purities, Tritscher quoted Lipp, who likes to say: “Specifications are to trade what a dictionary is to language.”

The interactive discussion with Codex Members and Observers covered a wide range of issues and thoughts, including the panellists’ views of what ‘science’ is, a word often referenced in Codex standards.

Read more on the FAO and the WHO websites.

Watch the webcast here.

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