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Organizations discuss food integrity and authenticity


Two side events with international governmental and non-governmental organizations

International governmental and non-governmental organizations agreed that Codex is the ideal forum to address issues related to food fraud and authenticity on the margins of the 41st Codex Alimentarius Commission.

During the side sessions moderated by Carlos Laorden of El País, participants reported the need to speak the same language on food fraud, to define an agreed terminology and that steps should be taken to mitigate risks associated with deliberate tampering and substitution, misrepresentation, dilution and deception of food.

Recent food scandals make it imperative to investigate solutions to this problem. While a number of initiatives exist to tackle food fraud, which has mainly an economic component but can also pose health risks, Codex is well placed to coordinate efforts towards defining and harmonizing standards related to these issues.

Undertaking a vulnerability assessment, developing an understanding of where the weakest link lies and addressing these aspects as part of a food safety management systems was considered a feasible starting point. Other advancements have been made in terms of traceability systems, electronic documentation, and innovative technology to make labelling more resistant to fraud, and these can all contribute to addressing the problem.

Once definitions have been agreed, a productive approach could be prioritizing certain issues instead of trying to tackle all aspects of food fraud simultaneously.

One of the NGOs noted that trade of commodities like wine is affected by infringement of intellectual property, consumer deception and non-compliance with national and international standards, with even the year of harvest misrepresented.

Customs were reported to play a central role in the combat against food fraud. Panellists also highlighted the role of new technologies like DNA-based methodologies including next generation sequencing and block chain.

Codex observers concluded that consumer trust is at the heart of the discussion on food fraud, and standards play a pivotal role in food labelling and composition that may be useful for combating food fraud too.

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