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21. The Coordinating Committee was provided with verbal reports by the delegations of Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and the United States on recent developments in food safety, food control and food standards matters in the region. These reports are summarized below on the basis of information provided by these delegations. More complete information on these activities was provided in documents circulated as CX/NASWP 98/5 and Conference Room Document 1.


22. The Delegation of Australia briefed the Committee of a number of activities carried out by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) as regards implementation of HACCP and Quality Assurance systems in meat, dairy and fish inspection programmes. Initiatives in food irradiation, as a pre-shipment treatment for food to be exported from Australia, were also underway.

23. The Delegation informed the Committee that Australia had published its National Strategic Objectives for Australia’s Interests in Codex from 1998 to 2000, which provided a focus for Australia’s participation in the work of the Commission. It also reported that Australia would continue to place high priority on the work of WTO Committee on SPS Measures, and in this regard Australia had participated in the review of the Agreement and the development of guidelines of consistency.

24. In the field of organic produce, Australia had in place a third party accreditation programme for the export of organic produce, where AQIS conducted annual audits of AQIS-accredited industry organizations. Export Control (Organic Certification) Orders were finalized in October 1997, with the result that organic produce had become “prescribed goods” under the Export Control Act 1982. A special feature of the Orders was to enable AQIS-accredited industry organizations to issue Organic Produce Certificates for export purposes. In April 1998 the Organic Produce Advisory Committee, chaired by AQIS, published the second edition of the National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce.

25. With regard to food hygiene and food standards, the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) had begun a reform of Australia’s food hygiene regulations. The proposed reforms consisted of three new standards in the Food Standards Code, infrastructure arrangements for their implementation, and reforms to State and Territory Food Acts. The Food Standards Code would be amended to include a new section on Food Hygiene Standards namely Food Safety Programmes and General Requirements, Food Hygiene Practices and Food Premises and Equipment.

26. As regards the review of food product standards, in July 1996 an Agreement between Australia and New Zealand came into force establishing the Authority - a system for developing joint food standards and an Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code. ANZFA was currently undertaking a Review of the Australian Food Standards Code, having regard to the objectives outlined in Section 10 of the Australian New Zealand Food Authority Act 1991, to be completed by the end of 1999. Thereafter the joint ANZFA Code would be implemented during the year 2000. The review was also carried out in accordance with the competition policy principles, which had been adopted by the Council of Australian Governments.


27. The Delegation of Canada described a number of initiatives being carried out by Health Canada (HC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) aimed at updating the national food legislation and strengthening the food control system. In this regard, the HC had launched a fundamental review of its health protection operations. The objectives of this were:

28. Several initiatives in the field of nutrition labelling, functional and novel foods, as well as unpasteurized juices and ciders were being carried out in order to modernize and consolidate national legislation in these areas. Canada also spoke about its experiences in dealing with consumer food safety education and labelling of foods causing allergies and sensitivities in domestic and imported food. Canada is proceeding in developing a single food act consolidating legislation from five separate acts relating to food.

29. The CFIA was working in the development of principles for an industry-operated, tri-national programme between NAFTA trading partners in order to resolve commercial disputes and in the development of an Integrated Inspection System that incorporated HACCP principles. The Delegation also informed the Committee that Canada was nearing the final stages of implementation of the Quality Management Program Reengineered (QMPR) for domestic processors of fish and fish products. This would require all domestic processors to implement HACCP in their operations. In addition, CFIA has implemented a Quality Management Programme for Importers (QMPI) which placed progressively more responsibility on the importer for the safety and quality of the fish products that they imported.


30. The Delegation of Cook Islands informed the Committee that the Ministry of Agriculture was responsible for the Plant Protection Act and that Food Law was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. WTO and trade issues fell under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Delegation pointed out that more information on the activities of the Codex Alimentarius Commission was needed and that Cook Islands were in process of establishing its National Codex Committee which would bring together both the public and private sectors in addressing Codex issues in the country.


31. The Committee was informed that Fiji was currently using the services of a FAO consultant to review its quarantine regulations in order to comply with international requirements. Since Fiji was a member of the World Trade Organization there was an urgent need to update food laws and regulations and in doing so to improve the country’s access to external markets. A commodity development framework up to the year 2000 was a stepping stone towards meeting this urgent need.


32. The Delegation of New Zealand described a number of initiatives discussed more fully in Conference Room Document 1. These initiatives included the revision of all food related legislation to provide for the development of risk based food safety and product safety programmes. New Zealand also reported on the current activities related to the review of food administration in New Zealand and the possible establishment of a single agency responsible for all food regulatory activities. Information was also provided on the role of the Australia New Zealand Food Authority in New Zealand.


33. The Delegation of Tonga informed the Committee that the responsibility for food control was shared among five ministries, being the Ministry of Agriculture responsible for import/export on the application of quarantine measures. The Delegation also informed that Tonga promoted the export of fish and produce to New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the European Union. In this regard, it expressed the interest of Tonga in HACCP aspects as the country was looking at export opportunities to other countries in the region. The Committee was also informed that Tonga will consider establishing a national Codex coordinating committee where the various ministries concerned would be reviewing the food control system. This initiative will be discussed in a national Codex workshop at the end of 1998.


34. The Delegation of Solomon Islands informed the Committee that the responsibility for food control was shared between various Ministries in the country. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries was responsible for quarantine legislation, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Commerce both had authority on food control. The responsibilities of the Ministry of Health were derived from the Food Act enacted in 1996 and prepared with the assistance of the WHO. A National Nutrition Policy had been adopted and Pure Food Regulations drafted so as to improve trade opportunities and ensure food quality and safety. A food advisory board is to be established to coordinate food safety activities in the country.


35. The Delegation of Samoa informed the Committee that there was a need to review the Samoa Food Law and regulations as they were completely out of date. Samoa was currently exporting fish and fisheries products to Japan and the United States and was looking for opportunities to expand its market to other countries in the region. The Delegation also informed the Committee that the consumers’ organization in Samoa was a member of Consumers International.


36. The delegation of the United States reported on a number of recent initiatives in food safety control described more completely in CX/NASWP 98/5. These initiatives included implementation of mandatory HACCP for seafood, meat and poultry and voluntary HACCP for retail establishments such as restaurants. The USA had also proposed draft guidelines for fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables aimed at identifying and preventing microbiological hazards that could cause food borne illness. In this regard, the US FDA had announced in May 1998 the availability of funds for research to support the reduction of the incidence of food-borne illness and develop models for assessing microbiological food safety risks.

37. The Committee was also informed of activities on consumer education, developments of FDA guidance on Ruminant Feed Rules and BSE Feed Regulation as well as the approval and establishment of tolerances and labelling requirements for a number of animal drugs. All this information has been made available through the CVM/FDA Internet Home Page.


38. Since the last session of the Committee, the FAO Sub-regional Office for the Pacific Islands (SAPA), located in Apia, Samoa had been established and was now fully staffed. A Food and Nutrition Officer had been appointed to the office in June 1998. Among other functions, this appointment was intended to contribute to the increased awareness of Codex in the region and to facilitate more targeted aid from donors and assistance from FAO. The Sub-Regional Officer on Food and Nutrition gave an oral account on activities carried out by the FAO Sub-Regional Office. Although there were not specific programmes on food quality and safety, two regional workshops on food control strategies for the region and National Codex Committees had been organized in 1997/98. The Sub-Regional Office was now preparing a work plan for 1999 and the programme of activities for the next biennium (2000-2001).

[15] CX/NASWP 98/5 and Conference Room Document 1

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