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The Latin American and the Caribbean region comes together to keep Codex work active


Members from the Latin American and the Caribbean region met online on 17 June 2020 to discuss and share their views about Codex, the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and identify the best practices to carry on the work of committee ahead of the next session.

Diego Varela, Chile, Chairperson of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (CCLAC), said that after working very actively on the follow-up to CCLAC21 through the Codex web forum, the countries of the Region “realized the great tools Codex offers to give continuity to the advancement of standards virtually. The Region believes that Codex is now more relevant and necessary than ever and we are therefore in continuous contact to continue contributing to the development of standards”.

Miriam Canda, Nicaragua, said “In each country the different phases towards the new normality are not working in a synchronized way, the priorities on the agenda have changed, therefore the challenges in taking part Codex work are now greater. In this scenario - added Canda – how the Codex Secretariat communicates at all levels is fundamental to ensure that the planning of Codex work in the coming months is consistent with the reality and needs of all national structures”.

The Codex Secretariat informed CCLAC Members of the status of Codex meetings and of the draft standards. Participants shared their experiences and the problems they are now facing in this unprecedented situation, noting the central role of Codex and food safety for the region.

Members are encouraged to accept and adapt to the new formats to keep Codex work active.

“Today, more than ever, the entire world is full of uncertainties, in need of clarity and definitions. The role of the Codex Alimentarius becomes vital to continue to meet the objective of protecting consumer health and, at the same time, to contribute to the food security of countries, through the provision of safe food framed in fair practices and based on science”, said Rommel Betancourt, Ecuador. “Member Countries are encouraged to seek, accept and adapt to the new formats that reality demands, in order to keep the work of the Codex active. It definitely cannot be stopped, especially at this time”.

Margarita Corrales is a PANAFTOSA/WHO Food Safety and Laboratory Specialist in the region: “These meetings are very important to foster interaction and exchange of experiences among countries of the region, even more now during the COVID-19 pandemic in which the face-to-face activities of Codex have been suspended. Codex Trust Fund projects in the region are also being adapted to the new remote modalities in order to implement their activities”, she said.

 Sarah Cahill, Senior Food Standards Officers in the Codex Secretariat stressed that, as this is an unusual and uncertain period, the virtual meetings with the regions provide an opportunity to give Codex Members direct updates on the status of Codex work and to listen to their challenges and concerns. “A common refrain is that we have to find the positive aspects of this situation and I have seen great enthusiasm and support to explore the options that might be available to us. Tools such as these virtual meetings mean we are in contact on a more regular basis and that increased communication alone is very positive for the work of Codex”, she said.


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Learn more about the CCLAC region

Listen to the audio of the meeting (English)