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CAC46/ Codex celebrates 60 years of standards setting


The 46th meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) has opened with a celebration of the Commission’s 60 years of standards setting, in which the past, future and relevance of Codex were discussed by a range of experts, and long-standing contributions to Codex were recognized.

The opening session, facilitated by Corinna Hawkes, Director of the FAO Food Systems and Food Safety Division and Codex Secretary ad interim, heard from the FAO and WHO Directors-General Qu Dongyu and Tedros Ghebreyesus on the importance of Codex and the role the Commission can play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The celebratory morning then involved discussions, videos and visions for the future. The first discussion looked at the origins of the Codex Alimentarius with Alan Randell, Former Codex Secretary, Stuart Slorach, Former CAC Chairperson, and Caroline Emond, Director-General of the International Dairy Federation. For Alan Randall, the “willingness of countries and observers to arrive at a conclusion that is acceptable to everybody has always been … wonderful to see”. He also described one of the greatest challenges of his time as Secretary as the move “from paper to digital”. He recalled that previous to 1993, 3-4 tonnes of paper were transferred between Rome and Geneva for the Commission meetings. Stuart Slorach, who first attended a Codex meeting in 1974, also highlighted Codex’s move to digital documentation as a key moment that first permitted the “cheap distribution of documents worldwide”. In talking about other changes he’s seen over the years, Slorach noted that Codex has become “truly global”, in large part thanks to the Codex Trust Fund.

Caroline Emond talked of IDF’s pride in the key role it played in the establishment of Codex and cautioned that “sometimes we have a tendency to see the old things as less important and look to the new things”, but “Codex’s importance will not change”.

A video on how scientists help keep food safe served as an introduction to a panel discussion involving Yongxiang Fan, Chairperson of the Codex Committee on Food Additives, Sally Hoffer, Chairperson of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food and Christiane Wolff, Counsellor for the Agriculture and Commodities Division of the World Trade Organization, who discussed the theme: “Based on science, built on trust: the Codex standards”.

While we learn from the past we must live for the future, so firstly be flexible, be agile, be ambitious. Those who established Codex 60 years ago were all of these things

Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General

In a second panel discussion, the coordinators of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committees all contributed to the topic of “Making an impact on food safety, quality and trade”, together with John Oppong-Otoo, Food Safety Officer at the African Union and Anne Gerardi, Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Senior Manager the Consumer Goods Forum. Codex Member representatives elected on a geographic basis and high-level participants (TBC) then contributed their own celebratory words.

Steve Wearne was joined by the Vice-Chairpersons to recognize the contribution of host country representatives as he delivered a potted history of Codex committees. He then also welcomed on stage former Chairpersons and Vice-chairpersons of the Commission to thank them for their long-standing contributions to Codex Alimentarius.

FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo then welcomed on stage Dr Emilio Esteban, Under Secretary for Food Safety at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Mr Carlos Goulart Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil and His Excellency Professor Hisham Aljadhey of Saudi Arabia who offered “voices from the Members”. The seven Members elected on a geographical basis were then invited on stage to applause from the delegates present.

The FAO Deputy Director -General was then joined by WHO Assistant Director General, Dr Alian Li to facilitate the final panel discussion with two international students representing “future food safety experts” from six countries, who presented their vision for the future of food safety and Codex.

The events were rounded off with a video showcasing a successful Codex Trust Fund project in Honduras and delegates then enjoyed a “street food village” and exhibition in the FAO headquarters atrium exhibition area.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting resumed to adopt the meeting agenda in the afternoon session.

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Codex Alimentarius Commission 46th session information page

CAC46 news
Directors-General of FAO and WHO open this year’s Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting with 60th anniversary wishes

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Codex Trust Fund in Honduras (English version)
Codex Trust Fund in Honduras (Spanish version)

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FAO publications on food safety: Protecting consumer health with Codex Alimentarius (
FAO news: Codex Alimentarius: 60-year milestone in food safety

Photo ©FAO/Roberto Sciotti
Current and former Chairpersons, Vice-Chairpersons and Codex Secretaries gather on the podium during 60th anniversary celebrations