Page tools

Codex@60 / Tom Heilandt speaks to CCFA delegates at celebration in Hong Kong


At an event held in Hong Kong, SAR, China to mark the Codex 60th anniversary celebrations during the Codex Committee on Food Additives meeting, Tom Heilandt, Codex Secretary spoke of the achievements that have given the world “a comprehensive system to ensure the safety and quality of the food we eat”.

Read an extract of his remarks:

Looking back to an amazing 60 years: Codex’ international science-based food standards, guidelines, and codes of practice have given the world a comprehensive system to ensure the safety and quality of the food we eat. It allows countries around the world to develop their own national food regulations, which are harmonized giving international food trade a safe and fair basis. More and more countries and observers have participated in Codex work over the years not least because of the status given to Codex food safety standards under the World Trade Organization SPS Agreement in 1995.

Besides developing standards in their thousands, Codex has become an international network of experts for all questions related to food safety and fair practices in the food trade. It is because of these strong links created between people, countries and regions that Codex came out of the pandemic stronger. We showed Codex could transition from physical meetings, to a gap year with almost no meetings but lots of online activities in 2020. Then a fullly virtual year in 2021. An almost virtual year 2022, and now 2023 where we will mainly be physical but broadcasting meetings to those who cannot come and even making some meetings fully hybrid. I have been happy and proud to be part of this amazing ride.

Codex job is of course not done: Today we are still facing a food security gap, a food safety gap, a nutrition gap and we are all becoming more and more aware of the gaps in sustainability of our food production. We face challenges, such as climate change, emerging foodborne pathogens, increasing concerns about food fraud and authenticity and new food sources and production methods. Consumers are changing too – they have more and not always better information at their fingertips and have more requirements for the food they are willing to buy.

Looking to the future, the Commission must be flexible and continue to adapt to the new challenges and ensure that its standards and guidelines remain relevant and effective in protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.  This cannot exclude – to the extent possible and in line with its mandate – promoting sustainable food systems. To be successful we will need the ongoing collaboration of all stakeholders, as well as continued investment in scientific research and data analysis not only in the “classical” sciences.

Let me close by saying that in times like these it is sometimes difficult to look to the future with optimism but let us commit ourselves to working together to address the challenges ahead and ensure a safe and sustainable food system for generations to come.


Learn more

The Codex podcast (Ep 13) – Reaching agreement on additives in wine

Spectacular show in Hong Kong celebrates Codex 60th anniversary

Photo credit © Centre for Food Safety, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Hong Kong SAR, China