Director-General  QU Dongyu

Codex Alimentarius: FAO Director-General stresses key role of science and data in the Commission’s work


Rome - Science and data play a crucial role in the work of the Codex Alimentarius standard setting body, QU Dongyu Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said as he opened the Commission’s 45th annual session here today.

The gathering is the first in-person meeting of the Commission, set up by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) for three years, with many delegates also participating virtually. Qu noted that technology has advanced rapidly in making such meetings possible in full transparency and making sure no one is left behind.

“The recent World Food Forum highlighted the critical role of science, technology and innovation for agrifood systems transformation globally.  The systematic use of science and data in Codex is a concrete example of this. The Codex standards based on science provided by FAO and WHO expert bodies and professional consultations were among the pioneers,” in using a science-based approach, Qu said. 

The Director-General noted a key highlight of FAO’s contribution to the work of Codex is the newly formulated Strategic Priorities for Food Safety, which will be considered and eventually endorsed by the upcoming session of the FAO Council in December.  This key document encourages a more consistent integration of food safety in the development of sustainable and inclusive agrifood systems, food security, and nutrition and agriculture development policies.

Qu described the Codex Standards as essential to achieve the transformation to more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable agrifood systems.

Codex sets standards for nearly 200 food products and has over 120 guidelines and codes of practice on a vast range of issues linked to food safety, quality and trade, along with thousands of numerical standards for contaminants, residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs and food additives.

Among the standards to be adopted by the Commission in this session is a ground-breaking set of guidelines on Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) used for children with severe acute malnutrition, which is expected to pave the way for wider production of the foods, helping to close the gap between supply and demand.  Other measures to be adopted include Guidelines for the Management of Biological Foodborne Outbreaks, standards for fresh dates and onions and shallots and a Code of Practice for Prevention and Reduction of Cadmium Contamination in Cocoa Beans.CAC45 will also seek to resolve the issue of maximum residue limits for zilpaterol, a veterinary drug used to enhance growth performance in cattle.