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CCFICS25 /standards delivering meaningful benefits for trading nations


Fran Freeman, Chairperson CCFICS

Australia hosted the first virtual session of the 25th Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems (CCFICS25) from 31 May to 08 June 2021. The work of CCFICS is crucial, particularly as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, in assisting global efforts to modernize food safety systems and deliver guidance that can influence regulatory standards related to food import and export inspection and certification systems.

Virtual meetings can bring their own challenges – time zones never work for everyone! Although the mix of plenary and working group times throughout the week hopefully helped.  There are indeed some real upsides to working virtually.  We had many more countries attend compared to physical meetings. More than 600 delegates registered for CCFICS25, representing 88 Member Countries; a wonderful demonstration of commitment by so many to come together to consider, debate, collaborate and agree on many complex matters that affect how food is traded. 

I would like to congratulate the entire Codex family in working together to achieve significant outcomes that should, over time, deliver meaningful benefits for trading nations.

There are some notable results from CCFICS25 and the work that will now progress to CAC44 includes Draft Principles and Guidelines for the Assessment and Use of Voluntary Third-party Assurance Programmes (vTPA) for adoption at step 8.

A proud and rewarding moment.

Mike O’Neill, speaking as Chairperson of the electronic working group (EWG) that led the work from the UK said: “It was a proud and rewarding moment for me as the EWG Chair when CCFICS25 agreed to recommend the vTPA guidelines for final adoption at step 8. The guidelines are already being used in pilot projects in Africa and Latin America which for me makes the last four years hard work even more worthwhile. I could not have achieved this successful outcome without the support of my co-Chairs Canada and Mexico, plus the members and observers whose input has helped shape the final product.”

The Committee also agreed to send Proposed Draft Guidance on Paperless Use of Electronic Certificates, for adoption at step 5/8 — a fast-track process which avoids another round of discussion as it is thought consensus has already been reached on the text —  and will work on a project document on the Development of Codex Guidance on the Prevention and Control of Food Fraud with the view to commence new work on this important topic.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to Kenya who, for the first time in CCFICS, will take on the role as EWG Co-Chairperson (joining the United States of America and the Chair New Zealand) to progress the two streams of work on systems equivalence.

CCFICS has also agreed to look at some new areas of work both of which are tackling current and emerging issues. Australia will be leading an EWG that will develop a discussion paper on ‘Guidance on Remote Audit and Verification in Regulatory Frameworks', with co-Chairs Singapore and Canada; and the United States will lead an EWG with the United Kingdom to develop a discussion paper on 'Principles for Traceability/Product Tracing as a Tool Within a Food Inspection and Certification System'. 

The CCFICS Secretariat in Canberra worked tirelessly with their Codex counterparts in Rome with the strong support of the interpretation and technical support teams. 

Additional reporting, Codex Secretariat

Photo credit © Codex/Australia


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Final report and draft texts available shortly on the CCFICS25 web page.