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Observer spotlight: Consumers International


Consumers International represents the voice of consumers in international policy-making forums and the global marketplace, including in the Codex Alimentarius Commission as an Observer organization. The vast partnership – with more than 200 organizations in more than 100 countries – strives to ‘drive change in the global marketplace on a scale that cannot be achieved at a national level alone, to ensure consumers are treated safely, fairly and honestly’. The Codex Secretariat recently spoke with Anna Glayzer, who is an Advocacy Manager with the global office in the United Kingdom, to hear her impressions of working on Codex food standards.

Q. Of the more than 200 organizations that belong to Consumers International, how many work on food?
A. Food has always been important to Consumers International. In a recent survey, 70 percent of our members said that they were working on or planning to work on food issues. 

Q. What Codex technical committee work is of interest to Consumers International?
A. Consumers International currently follows and contributes to the work of Codex Committee on Food Labelling and the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods. Time and resources severely limit the number of committees we can follow.

Q. How does Consumers International benefit from attending Codex meetings?
A. We get a chance to observe and to participate to some extent in the Codex processes.

Q. What does Consumers International bring to the Codex table, benefitting other Observers and Members?
A. We bring consumer perspective and a long history of defense of the public interest to the table. We have some strong technical expertise within our network.

Q. Can you describe your experience at Codex meetings, with whom do you interact mainly and what is it about?
A. I wasn’t personally at CAC41 but have been to a previous CAC. We tend to attend only when a particular process that we have been following reached the CAC. Since the Codex process is Member country-led, we try to work with countries that share our perspective.

Q. In your view, is the role/importance of food standards changing? If so, how?
A. Food standards generally are a basic building block of global food safety infrastructure. Codex standards retain their importance as the point of reference in WTO disputes. The types of issues that food standards are required to address are changing. Health and environmental concerns need to be better integrated with food safety standards. Complex and urgent challenges like antimicrobial resistance (AMR), for instance, require a more integrated approach.

“There is no country in the world where food safety is completely guaranteed and, as supply chains get longer and new issues emerge, it’s essential for countries to work together”

Q. What are current consumer concerns about food and nutrition?Anna Glayzer
A. The answer to this depends, of course, on where you are in the world. The types of issues that our members work on includes: food controls and inspection systems; nutrition; food information (including labelling); marketing; AMR; sustainability; pesticide use; food waste and food prices.

Q. Your colleague, Ms Sana Mujahid of Consumer Reports, kindly took part in an HLPF side event in July alongside other Codex Members and Observers, where Costa Rica announced its proposal for a UN World Food Safety Day. Do you think a day dedicated to food safety should be established?
A. I think a day dedicated to food safety is a great idea. Too many consumers are eating unsafe food and there is a general lack of awareness among all stakeholders of the extent to which unsafe food is a problem. There is no country in the world where food safety is completely guaranteed and, as supply chains get longer and new issues emerge, it’s essential for countries to work together. I hope that world food safety day will bolster awareness and political will.

Q. What would having a UN-recognized World Consumers Week achieve?
A. Many consumers still face real challenges in their everyday lives, including a lack of access or unsafe goods and services, and unfair practices. Raising awareness of consumer rights amongst consumers, businesses and governments is an important step in helping to put consumer protection in place. We believe that official UN recognition of World Consumer Protection Week can play a crucial part in this, helping to put consumer rights on the map of even more organizations, governments, companies and media outlets. It will help to raise awareness by engaging more people, in more activities, in more countries.


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