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Decisions from Day 1 of the Codex Alimentarius Commission

UNFAO HQ Plenary Hall

Here is a summary of the main decisions taken today at #CAC39.

Guidelines for the control of Salmonella in beef and pork
AGREED - 27 June 2016

Beef and pork meat can be contaminated with various bacteria including non-typhoidal Salmonella. Salmonella, which causes diarrhoeal disease, is one of the most frequent causes of foodborne illnesses around the world, with tens of millions becoming sick each year. Although most cases are mild, Salmonella causes an estimated 60 000 deaths annually. The guidelines adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission focus on practices from primary production to processing to prevent, reduce, or eliminate Salmonella in fresh beef and pork. In addition, the best way for consumers to avoid becoming sick from eating meat that may be contaminated with Salmonella is to cook it thoroughly.

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Guidelines on food hygiene to control foodborne parasites
AGREED – 27 June 2016

Foods including meat, milk, fish, fruit and vegetables can be contaminated with different parasites. Examples include Toxoplasma gondii and Taenia solium (pork tapeworm) which can be carried by animals and transmitted to humans when they eat contaminated meat that is raw or undercooked. Humans infected with Taenia solium can develop brain cysts, and this is the most frequent preventable cause of epilepsy in the world. Three key ways to control foodborne parasites are to prevent infection in farmed food animals, prevent contamination of fresh and processed foods, and inactivate parasites in foods during processing (e.g. freezing, heat treatment). The guidelines adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission provide information on hygienic production of various types of foods to control parasites and protect health.

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Nutrient reference values for the guidelines on nutrition labelling
AGREED - 27 June 2016

A lack of vitamins and minerals in a person's diet can have serious health consequences. For example, Vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness and increase the risk of disease and death from severe infections. Foods high in Vitamin A include eggs, milk, liver, yellow and orange vegetables, and leafy greens. Another example is iron deficiency-the most widespread nutritional disorder in the world. A lack of iron can cause anaemia (lower than normal level of red blood cells) which stops the body from getting the amount of oxygen it needs. Iron deficiency anaemia can lead to pregnancy complications and delayed growth and development in infants and children. Foods high in iron include meat, shellfish, and some leafy green vegetables. The Codex Alimentarius Commission has adopted nutrient reference values for Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Vitamin A to be included in its Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling.

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Several new standards for the safe use of food additives
AGREED - 27 June 2016

Additives are substances added to food for technological purposes, such as preservatives that keep food fresh for longer, antioxidants that stop products from going rancid, and stabilisers that help mix ingredients. Additives also comprise colours, flavours and sweeteners. The safety of food additives is evaluated by an independent international expert committee (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, JECFA) before their use in food can be recommended. Based on JECFA's safety assessments, the Codex Alimentarius Commission has adopted almost 400 maximum use levels for food additives in specific foods. These include a number of antioxidants and preservatives.

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Maximum level of inorganic arsenic in husked rice
AGREED - 27 June 2016

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the Earth’s crust. It is present in many foods due to absorption from soil and water. Rice in particular can take up more arsenic than other foods and, being a highly consumed food item, can contribute significantly to arsenic exposure. Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can cause cancer and skin lesions. It has also been associated with developmental effects, heart disease, diabetes, and damage to the nervous system and brain. To protect consumers from excessive exposure, the Codex Alimentarius Commission recommends that no more than 0.35 mg/kg of inorganic arsenic should be allowed in husked rice (paddy rice from which the husk only has been removed, also known as brown rice or cargo rice).

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