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Coordinated research contributing to future standards through Codex mechanism


by Zhihua Ye, Joint FAO/IAEA Division-IAEA.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), through the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture (the “Joint FAO/IAEA Division”), support and implement activities related to the improvement of food safety and control systems. These activities are therefore closely related to the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) and several of its committees, such as CCPR, CCCF, CCRVDF and CCMAS.

The Joint FAO/IAEA Division implements strategic research and development through coordinated research projects (CRPs) involving research institutes in both developing and developed countries. The Joint FAO/IAEA Division has been implementing five CRPs in the field of food and environmental protection. Most of these research projects generate analytical methods and procedures that enable countries to adhere to Codex food safety standards and provide quality-assured data that could contribute to the development of future standards through the Codex mechanism.

A new CRP (D52042) on authenticity testing for high/added value food products was approved for implementation and its first Research Coordinating Meeting was held in Vienna, Austria, 13-17 May 2019. This project will focus on the implementation and application of nuclear techniques for the authentication of food commodities with high-value labelling claims. The technology is based on bio-element stable isotope data and the techniques will include new methods for the measurement of stable isotopes, chemical constituents and methods of profiling/fingerprinting foods. By doing so, the project aims to safeguard consumers and reputable producers; to stimulate domestic markets; to strengthen food control capability and to reduce barriers to international trade.

One ongoing CRP focuses on development of integrated radiometric and complementary techniques for mixed contaminants and residues in foods (D52041). Several multi-class analytical methods have been developed for pesticide and veterinary drug residues, mycotoxins and other contaminants/residues in a range of food commodities. Co-organized by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division and the Botswana National Veterinary Laboratory, the project’s second research coordination meeting was held in Gaborone, Botswana, 25-29 March 2019. The meeting and project findings received considerable interest from both the public and private sectors. Outputs of this CRP are relevant to the Codex Committees including CCRVDF, CCPR, CCCF and CCMAS.

Two consultant meetings will be held in 2019 to develop two new CRPs at IAEA Headquarters in Vienna, Austria. One is expected to foster innovation in food irradiation through the development of novel irradiation technologies, using low energy beams either for surface treatment of food commodities or as phytosanitary treatment methods for fresh fruit and vegetable commodities. The other will be designed to support Member States in setting national or international safety/baseline levels for priority veterinary drug residues in foods through depletion/pharmacokinetic research studies of radiolabeled substances in animals and the determination of associated residues in animal matrices. These will further enhance the efforts of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division to continue R&D activities relevant to Codex.


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