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Codex committee discusses modern solutions to enhance the integrity of the global food trade and protect consumers


This week Brisbane, Australia, is playing host to the 24th session of the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems (CCFICS), discussing the latest technical aspects of international guidance to protect consumers and ensure fair practices in the international food trade. The meeting got under way on Monday with an aboriginal smoke-signal ceremony, a traditional Queensland custom granting permission to travelers seeking to cross its boundaries—a reminder that people have sought reciprocal understandings to protect their lands and ways of life throughout human history, work that CCFICS carries forward today through its efforts to continuously improve mechanisms for assuring the safety and authenticity of food being traded across borders.

As the new Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Fran Freeman—First Assistant Secretary of the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Exports Division—welcomed 161 participants from more than 40 countries as well as other international and non-governmental organizations. Highlighting the important role the Codex system played in supporting a “vibrant, interconnected, ever-evolving global trading community”, she noted that “with the emergence of new technologies and changing consumer expectations, it is vital that inspection and certification systems are able to adapt to and keep up with that change”.

The session would focus on such concepts as system equivalence, paperless electronic certificates, voluntary third-party assurance, and important questions relating to food authenticity and fraud — “While all these topics have assuring food safety at their core, they are also highly relevant in terms of ensuring fair practices in the changing trading environment.”

Codex and universal values

Recalling the great importance Australia places on the role of the Codex Alimentarius Commission as a consensus-based, “inclusive and transparent organization working hard to ensure consumers have access to safe food”, the Chairperson welcomed global efforts to raise awareness about food safety. “It is very exciting that the United Nations will be considering the adoption of a World Food Safety Day. This initiative is not before time and Australia is very pleased to support the proposal of our friends from Costa Rica.”

Steve Wearne, Vice-Chairperson of the Commission, also addressed the meeting, underscoring that CCFICS was at the forefront of applying innovative technological approaches to advancing Codex work, allowing for the broadest possible international participation and creating the kind of broadly applicable outputs that made sure Codex remained globally relevant.

Read more in the CCFICS24 webpage