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Codex Portugal / consultation and inclusivity the keys to success as a contact point


On 1 April 2022 Miguel Cardo (pictured left) ended his nine year term as Codex Contact Point (CCP) for Portugal. Before handing over Miguel shared his experiences.

What did you know about Codex when you started working as CCP?

My first Codex meeting as a national delegate was during the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2007 in a food hygiene meeting in New Delhi, India. It was a big challenge, a new world for me, which forced me to give up my summer vacation and immerse myself in the Codex Procedural Manual, which, as we all know, is a terrific, pleasant and relaxing vacation option to read!

I was lucky to have excellent colleagues who helped me through this incredible experience and I was impressed by the atmosphere of international Codex meetings from the get-go. Not only because all participants communicate in a common language, speaking in “food safetyish”, but also because I was embraced by a kind of Codex feeling as a real family to which I was warmly and immediately welcomed with great empathy. 

What are the keys to success in the role and how do you run a successful CCP?

In my opinion, the most important factor for the role of the CCP is the existence of a formal, inclusive structure for consultation with all stakeholders, as well as the existence of a strong and dedicated team for the preparation of national positions. Of course, for that to happen, it is important for all stakeholders, from consumers, to economic operators, academia, competent authorities and political decision-makers, to be aware of the importance of Codex work. So, inclusive awareness campaigns and political support are key factors for success.

What new challenges do you see for Codex in the coming years?

This reflection is of great importance. EU Member States have recently had this discussion and have produced conclusions that reflect the need for the Codex Alimentarius to explore and to adopt innovative methodologies for both risk assessment and impact assessment of food standards, to facilitate the fit-for-purpose consideration of all scientific disciplines related to food systems within the Codex Alimentarius’ standard-setting activity. I believe that the relevant sustainability considerations, such as environmental protection and animal welfare, could complement the risk assessment currently performed by the joint FAO/WHO expert committees. 

In addition, it is of utmost importance to discuss the cross-cutting impact of all our food related standard-setting work and align the role of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in promoting the coordination with the relevant international and intergovernmental organizations.

Another area to explore is the need to duly assess every proposal for new work against the criteria for the establishment of work priorities, in particular the “amenability to standardization” criterion, with a view to ensuring broad support from the membership to avoid endless work on proposals that will never gather consensus and may even make Codex work seem superfluous and unproductive.

That being said, I believe that the adoption of Codex Alimentarius standards by consensus should be the primary objective, recognizing the need for the Codex Alimentarius Commission to duly address situations where there is a major divergence of views due to other legitimate factors and considerations to be taken into account. To face these difficulties, the membership may also seek alternatives, such as a common understanding on available options to allow its members to abstain from the acceptance of a standard.

How can we best promote the work of Codex globally?

In my opinion, the promotion of Codex can be facilitated if the Member Countries understand the usefulness of implementing the Codex principles and guidelines for National food control systems as well as other relevant Codex guidelines to protect public health and ensure fair practices in the food trade. For this purpose, the FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment Tool may be useful for countries to identify priority areas for improvement and to plan sequential and coordinated activities to reach expected outcomes and monitor their progress. This tool also offers an opportunity for developing a common understanding and vision among competent authorities and other associated stakeholders (private sector, consumers, academia) of the current status of the national food control system, and of the priorities on the path for progress.

Francisco Santos (pictured right) from the Division of Public Health in the Directorate of Food Safety Services will be taking over from Miguel Cardo as CCP for Portugal.

What will be your priorities in stepping up to run the CCP?

I would answer at this very early stage that the main objective, after a short but very important diagnosis already underway with our teams in the Codex committees, is to continue developing the teams internally, expanding participation whenever possible, to national stakeholders and the scientific community.

As you know Portugal’s participation in Codex is coordinated at European Union level most of the time. This is the best way to build a participated and grounded common opinion when analysing the Codex challenges, that does not diminish the individual responsibility as a member in participating, directly or indirectly in this matter that is so important to the world.


Learn more

Download the Codex Procedural Manual - CCP information in Section VI