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COVID-19 likely to cause cancellation of a physical meeting of 43rd Codex Commission


The Chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Guilherme da Costa, Brazil, has written to FAO suggesting the cancellation of the 43rd Codex Alimentarius Commission session planned for July 2020 in Rome and to explore the opportunity to hold an online Executive Committee session to ensure that standard setting work can continue.

In the communication, Da Costa expresses his concern that expert delegations will not be able to gather in Rome for the Commission not only due to global travel restrictions currently in place, but also as many countries are currently redeploying food safety officials to national COVID-19 related work.

Mindful of the need to advance standard setting work in the absence of a Commission session in July, Da Costa, together with the Vice Chairs and the Codex Secretariat, has outlined to FAO plans for a virtual Executive Committee meeting. This session would focus on priority issues including the critical review of Codex standards under development, which would then normally be presented to the Commission for adoption. The plan being proposed would then see Commission Members being invited by correspondence to make decisions regarding standards on what is known as a ‘non-objection’ basis and also confirm the nomination of new regional coordinators. This would ensure that planning of the next round of the FAO/WHO coordinating committees - provisionally scheduled for late 2021/early 2022 - can proceed.

This solution would allow vital work to move ahead whilst “maintaining the openness, transparency and trust that underpins the work of Codex”, said Da Costa.

Technical committees

Many Members are also raising questions about the feasibility of Codex sessions scheduled for the second half of 2020. The Codex Secretariat is in close and regular contact with the host countries of these Committees. Codex Secretary Tom Heilandt said “we recognize that Member countries have many challenges facing them and participation in meetings is not only related to the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to economic and international travel situations. I have therefore discussed this challenge with all Codex host secretariats and Committee chairpersons and will continue to work closely with them to determine how we can continue our work in a fully transparent and participatory way.”


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For updates on technical committees visit the Codex meeting page.