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Codex food hygiene principles basis for safe food around the world


As the Codex food hygiene committee (CCFH) begins deliberations in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, delegations from around the world have emphasised the importance of one of the main items on the agenda. The revision of the Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene (GPFH), has been described by Udo Wiemer from Germany as “the most important item of the upcoming session”. In many countries the Codex text forms the basis of national legislation. “In Indonesia GPFH are adopted identically to be Indonesian national standards and used as a reference by several government agencies”, said a member of the delegation.

“The CCFH standards have proven invaluable in guiding the development of our food export programs and implementation of best practices to ensure the food produced is first of all safe and meets international standards”, said Linnette Peters, Jamaica.

We have learned a lot about preventing foodborne outbreaks in the last 15-20 years.

Olivier Cerf Jenny Scott at CCFH51

Olivier Cerf, France and Jenny Scott, United States at the working group on GPFH before CCFH51

The current update has taken place over several years. “The GPFH is the core document for the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene”, said Jenny Scott, United States and one of the co-chairpersons of the online working group that has been developing the latest revisions.  “We have learned a lot about HACCP implementation and the importance of good hygienic practices in preventing foodborne outbreaks in the last 15-20 years; it is critical that this document reflect the current knowledge about food safety”.

“This document plays an important role both within New Zealand and globally in promoting food safety, public health and facilitating the trade of food”, said Marion Castle, New Zealand.

“The work developed by the CCFH is of great relevance for the application in the Brazilian food and feed industry. Both sectors have applied the concepts of hygiene and HACCP to comply with local legislation and to meet international requirements”, said Angela Pellegrino Missaglia.

GPFH – a fundamental reference for all food safety control systems.

For Uruguay, a producer and exporter of food from agriculture and fisheries and whose economy depends heavily on the development of these sectors, “it is essential to have clear provisions regarding food hygiene that are science-based, in order to facilitate open and fluid trade of these products”, said Norman Bennett. “We have high expectations for the progress achieved in the document on General Principles of Food Hygiene - a fundamental reference for all food safety control systems”.

In Uganda the economy is agriculture based with micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that are adding value to commodities and need to implement good hygienic practices. International standards that are based on science and take into consideration the needs of developing countries like Uganda allow MSMEs “to contribute to the ultimate objective of food safety and also access national, regional and international markets”, said a representative of the delegation.

“I look forward to simple and practical solutions on food hygiene that can be adopted by MSMEs within the constraints of low capital, inadequate infrastructure and low level of education”, said Walter Otieno, Kenya.

Annually, more than 91 million people fall ill, and 137 0000 die of food borne diseases in Africa. “Africa has the highest burden of food borne diseases and CCFH harmonizes the continent's efforts in the development and implementation of Food Hygiene Standards”, said Alabi Olaniran, Nigeria.

Virachnee Lohachoompol is a Standards Officer in the Codex Contact Point of Thailand. “Thai standards on Good Manufacturing Practice and HACCP are based on Codex principles. With this revision, I hope to see easy-to-read text and flexibility given to Small and Less Developed Businesses”, she said.

The work of this committee “facilitates the international trade system and improves food safety practices, which are mandatory for developing countries like Ethiopia”, said Yoseph Legesse Assefa. This in turn promotes industrialization within the country and increases participation in international trade.

Food hygiene the basis of food safety policy in general.

There is no doubt that the revision of the general principles is of major importance, as it is the basis for the work of the committee and in fact for food safety policy in general. “The importance of the revisions lies in better linking good hygiene practices and procedures based on the HACCP principles. Adapting to new approaches such as food safety culture, further increases its remit”, said Kris De Smet.

France hopes that significant progress will be possible towards the adoption, by consensus, of the revised text of the General Principles of Food Hygiene. “France has been mobilizing for more than five years to modernize this reference from 1969, which is essential for all Codex stakeholders”, said a representative of the French delegation.

The Irish delegation to CCFH51 said: “the work on the revision of the GPFH text is important for us as HACCP and Good Hygienic Practices are the core elements of food safety controls operated by food businesses and verified by the competent authorities in Ireland and for this reason we have made an active contribution to the drafting work”.


Working group on GPFH discussing and reviewing draft text before CCFH51

Leon Gorris, Secretary of the International Commission on Microbiological Specification for Foods (ICMSF) said: “By timely reviewing global guidance such as GPFH, CCFH ensures that the foundations of modern food safety management are inclusive of all nations and stay up-to-date”.

First-time delegate Minglanilla Mendoza, Philippines, said: “it is important to make sure that the perspective of the food business operators are considered so that it will be easy to get the buy-in and execution of the standards and guidelines”.

Codex is critical to evolving global food safety standards.

Sanjay Gummalla from the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) underlined the importance of the work of CCFH “as AFFI and other members of the International Frozen Food Association strive to align global food safety policies and practices.

“The work of Codex is critical to evolving global food safety standards and thereby ensure confidence in the world’s food supply and the safety of consumers”, he said.

Kate Loatman, Executive Director of the International Council of Beverages Associations said: “Our members strongly support the work of CCFH because we are committed to advancing food safety and quality.  CCFH provides important tools for managing food safety for all stakeholders.”

Food safety is one of the four pillars upon which the International Dairy Federation (IDF) built its work programme and IDF has been an active participant in the work of the CCFH for more than 30 years. During this period, the CCFH has developed guidance and principles that are decisive for international trade in milk products. “As most of this year’s CCFH agenda is relevant for dairy sector, IDF expects to listen and contribute to interesting discussions while achieving progress on all the items”, said Claus Heggum.

“The main purpose of attending the upcoming CCFH meeting is to realize the new food hygiene management methods, and apply them to China's food production industry to improve food safety management and food hygiene”, said Yingying Guo, China.

Hoping to make great progress

“Guatemala hopes that all Member countries in the next CCFH51 meeting, regardless their differences, will be able to make great progress in the process of the standards under discussion, and that in the next Commission meeting such progress be consolidated”, said Otto Fernando Maldonado

Nada Saeed from Saudi Arabia said: “I am very optimistic regarding the outputs of this meeting. The matters discussed … in this meeting will be reflected in national regulations, which have a positive impact on consumer health and trade”.

“Hopefully the group will be able to get some papers forwarded to the next steps in consensus with all the members of the group”, said Carolin Krejci, Austria.

Good progress has been made with the GPFH document. “If further progress can be made during the working group on Sunday 3rd November 2019 and if the Committee shows enough good will in plenary, the document may be moved to Step 5/8”, said a spokesperson for the Irish delegation.

Did you know?

At its first meeting in 1964, the CCFH identified the development of General Principles for Food Hygiene as its primary objective. At its 4th session, the CCFH completed the first version and submitted the text for the consideration of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Among the first of the Codex standards, this text was adopted in 1969, and subsequently became known as RCP1 (Today CXC 1-1969). In Codex, experts also refer to the “HACCP annex” to the main text. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, identifies specific hazards and measures for their control to ensure the safety of food. It was last revised in 2003.

Cleveland Ohio, USA

CCFH51 takes place in Cleveland, Ohio, USA


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CCFH51 meeting documents online here

Food Hygiene at 50