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CCFH53 / work completed on Escherichia coli and water in food production


The Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) has agreed to send guidelines on the control of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and on the safe use and reuse of water in food production to the next Codex Alimentarius Commission for final adoption. Both proposed Codex texts are extensive documents and although the general sections and several commodity specific annexes are now finalized, the committee will continue to negotiate on specific areas of intervention for other foods.

Over 120 delegates participated in the final adoption which was held virtually after a physical session which saw 51 countries in attendance. The dedication and deep technical skill of those who attend the committee was evident in their commitment to collaborate in order to reach consensus at the session.

Chairperson Emilio Esteban, Chief Scientist at the United States Department of Agriculture, in closing the meeting, spoke of his deep respect for the CCFH delegates. “You are an amazing group to work with. The best group of people I have worked with in my life,” he said.

The meeting was another first for Codex as the plenary discussions were broadcast live every day in English, French and Spanish for those unable to attend in person.

Sarah Cahill from the Codex Secretariat was present in San Diego for the deliberations and also for the virtual adoption. “The physical meeting provided a superb opportunity to complete several years of work undertaken through electronic working groups and virtual meetings and resolve face-to-face outstanding issues in a timely and collaborative manner,” she said.

The close relationship between the FAO/WHO expert bodies who provide scientific advice, in this case those dealing with microbiological risk assessment (known as JEMRA), and CCFH was also critical to this progress as it ensured the committee had a strong scientific basis on which to develop the guidelines.


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Main photo, Chairperson Emilio Esteban (left) with Chairperson's Assistant Heather Selig during virtual report adoption

Photo credit ©Marie Maratos Bhat