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Food additives committee supporting innovation whilst maintaining core values


Many of the Codex technical committees are exploring how to continue working on specific topics in the absence of physical meetings without losing an entire year. The Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA), hosted by China, met online on 21 May 2020 with the countries leading electronic working groups in the committee to address concerns from member countries and observers on how CCFA can continue to manage its standard development work effectively.

Commenting on the outcome of those discussions, chairperson Yongxiang Fan said, “I am very proud to see CCFA with its very heavy workload and complicated agenda maintaining continuity in an active way during the pandemic”. The meeting proposed to take on more work on dairy standards to achieve the goal of alignment between the General Standard on Food Additives (GSFA) and commodity standards. For other technical discussions, such as additional provisions for colours and sweeteners, further comments will be requested, and the group will also explore the use of creative online tools to continue working.

FAO and WHO are committed to continue supporting the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, adapting work and meeting practices to accommodate the physical distancing guidelines from governments around the world during the pandemic. In a joint statement FAO and WHO representatives from the scientific advice expert bodies said: “FAO and WHO’s joint scientific advice program continues to meet, albeit virtually, to deliver the scientific advice to various Codex Committees. As the world is changing around us, we will need to adapt and together learn how we can deliver the scientific advice and the food safety standards that the world needs”.

a transparent and inclusive mechanism.

Recognizing the unprecedented times for Codex Alimentarius as well as all Codex Members and Observers, Paul Honigfort, United States, said: “We are hopeful that the work of CCFA can continue to progress during these unusual circumstances.  Provided consensus can be reached within the committee pertaining to their terms of reference, our existing electronic working groups offer a transparent and inclusive mechanism for CCFA to continue its work”. 

Steve Crossley, Australia, also welcomed the desire on the part of Codex, CCFA and FAO/WHO to continue the work programme on food additives despite the practical difficulties that arise from the current pandemic. “We are supportive of the use of innovative approaches to progress the work of the Committee while recognizing the continuing need for transparency and inclusiveness”, he said.

Successful outcomes in the committee rely on mutual effort from all parties. “I appreciate the very thoughtful proposals and hard work, and look forward to meeting delegates soon, either virtually or physically”, said chairperson Fan.

The motto of the World Food Safety Day on 7 June is: food safety, everyone’s business and all parties will need to continue working together to ensure that projects move ahead and standards are developed. The CCFA discussions confirm a commitment to ensuring that the basic values of transparency, inclusivity and neutrality remain topmost priorities, even when it is not possible to meet in person for the time being.


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