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CCFA53 / FAN Yongxiang says Hong Kong meeting will strengthen international friendship and collaboration beyond Codex


As delegates gather in Hong Kong for the 53rd session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA53), which runs from 27-31 March 2023, Chairperson FAN Yongxiang, China, sat down with the Codex Secretariat to look ahead to the meeting.

What will it be like returning to a physical meeting?

I believe all delegates are keen to meet in person after three years of virtual discussion and the challenges of meeting across different time zones. We have to admit that physical meetings do cost more than meeting virtually. However, the Codex vision is: “where the world comes together to create food safety and quality standards to protect everyone everywhere”, and people need to communicate by every means possible to find consensus instead of just talking from behind a screen. To meet physically can improve efficiency and we can finish all the work in one week and don’t have to allocate other time after returning home. More importantly, meeting physically will strengthen our international friendship and promote more collaboration beyond Codex. I believe so.

Why Hong Kong?

CCFA46 held in Hong Kong in 2014 left a big impression on all delegates. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China is one of the world's most important financial centers and commercial ports. Hong Kong is a hotspot for any number of leisure and cultural activities. With strong support from the Hong Kong Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and Centre for Food Safety, CCFA53 is finally to be held in Hong Kong. I hope every delegates can enjoy their stay here.

The agenda looks packed, what are the key areas for the committee to deliberate for you?

As usual, the GSFA, endorsement/alignment, the International Numbering System (INS) and the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) evaluation Priority list are the four pillars of CCFA. To revise and update the General Standard on Food Additives (GSFA) will be the core work of every session. Based on scientific advice provided by JECFA, some food additive provisions will be introduced into the GSFA while others will be revised or removed. Our work on alignment aims to make the GSFA the sole reference on food additives in the Codex system The electronic and physical working group on GSFA and alignment prior to the plenary will provide a good basis for the subsequent discussions.

There are also some hot topics ahead of us in this session: the use of trisodium citrate in fluid milk which has been debated several times both in the Committee and at the Commission;  the use of certain food additives in wine production which has been discussed over several sessions but where we have as yet failed to find an agreed solution. I hope at this session the “wine item” can have a good conclusion together with the tasty food in Hong Kong.

Why is the meeting only being broadcast on line? Why not full hybrid as many countries request?

The Host Secretariat encourages Member Countries to join the physical meeting of CCFA53, and has tried their best to create a transparent Codex session. Taking into account different factors, the broadcast approach was chosen to promote wider participation.

What is your message for first time delegates?

To listen, to watch, to learn, to feel and finally, to enjoy your first Food Additive Session in Hong Kong.


Learn more

Register for the webcast of all sessions

Working papers all available on the CCFA53 webpage

Photo credit © FAO/Roberto Sciotti – FAN Yongxiang at CAC45, 21 November 2022

Updated 23/3/23 to correct text in the penultimate question.