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CCCF17/ President of Panama gives opening speech for contaminants meeting


The 17th session of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF) was declared officially open in Panama City, 15 April, following speeches from His Excellency the President of the Republic of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen and other distinguished guests. The opening ceremony paved the way for what promises to be an intensive week of discussions around a variety of current CCCF texts and future work for the Committee.

His Excellency the President expressed appreciation that Panama was chosen to co-host this Committee meeting. “Panama has always been a crossroads in the world,” he said, “and an ideal place for dialogue, and a place to find consensus.” He underlined the fundamental role that food safety plays in Panama: “food safety is one item that is anchored in our constitution as a fundamental right,” he continued, commenting that in his role as President of the Republic, he believes it is his duty to ensure food safety for the population. Panama, he remarked, seeks to “ensure protection of all our citizens, as does the Codex Alimentarius.” In reference to the Committee meeting, he concluded that “altogether we shall be able to achieve for our respective populations a system where our food is safe, if we give this matter the attention it deserves at all levels.”

In his speech, His Excellency the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Panama, Sander Cohen, drew a number of parallels between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Panama, not least the central location each country has in its respective region and the role each country plays as a hub for the food trade. Food standards, he pointed out, are fundamental to that status as a logistical hub. The Ambassador also commented that even before he arrived on assignment in Panama, he was contacted by the Codex Alimentarius Secretariat to inform him of the planned CCCF meeting in the country. “That is what I call preparation!” he said. Drawing a final parallel between the two nations, he said “we like to fry our food and drink it with a cool beer!”

Vittorio Fattori, Food Safety Officer, for FAO and Ana Rivière Cinnamond, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) representative in Panama, also gave opening speeches. Fattori highlighted the longstanding collaboration between FAO and other organizations, including WHO, to promote food safety and help countries implement sound policies. He also underscored the significance of FAO’s foresight programme in our understanding of future food safety challenges and opportunities. Cinnamond noted the importance of this Panama meeting to the entire Latin America and Caribbean region. In underlining the commitment of PAHO to food safety, she commented that it is “important to consider effects of climate change on the production of food and food safety; it is important to have climate resilient systems, bearing in mind the challenges to public health.”

Raj Rajasekar, Vice Chairperson of CAC, spoke of Codex and how “the strength of Codex is not merely in its commitment to science and risk assessment but also in its collaborative structures and processes to ensure that its outputs are based on the input of all interested parties. The work of this Committee epitomizes these attributes. … It is so pleasing to see this session being co-hosted with the Government of Panama here in this beautiful Panama City. Co-hosting of Codex sessions is a commendable practice and reflects the strong commitment of host countries to promote collaborative relationships, sharing of responsibilities and capacity building.”

A number of high-level guests were also in attendance, including their Excellencies Jorge Rivera Staff, Minister of Commerce and Industries, Augusto Valderrama, Minister of Agricultural Development, Luis Francisco Sucre, Minister of Health, Francisco Mola, Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Candice Herrera, Vice Minister of Internal Trade and Industries.

Over the next three days, CCCF17 will address the topics of industrial, environmental, and naturally occurring toxicants in some foods, including maximum levels for lead and sampling plans for methylmercury in fish. Under the topic of toxins, delegates will discuss the definition of and maximum level for total aflatoxins in ready-to-eat peanuts, sampling plans for total aflatoxins and ochratoxin A in certain spices and the new code of practice or guidelines for the prevention and reduction of ciguatera poisoning. Five discussion papers have also been put forward for debate. There will also be a review of the Code of Practice for the Reduction of Aflatoxin B1 in Raw Materials and Supplemental Feedingstuffs for Milk-Producing Animals (CXC 45-1997) and discussion on the development of a code of practice for the prevention and reduction of cadmium contamination in foods.

The meeting report will be adopted on Friday 19 April.

Read more

CCCF17 webpage


Photo ©Ministerio de Comercio e Industrias, Panama

Photo caption: His Excellency the President of the Republic of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen delivers an opening speech.