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Trade and Food Standards

This publication explains how international food safety standards are set through the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Food Standards Programme – the Codex Alimentarius Commission – and how these standards are applied in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) and on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement).Through the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius, members establish science-based, internationally agreed food standards. 

The publication describes the two organizations, how they operate together, and how countries can and should engage to keep international food standards up to date and relevant, and to resolve trade issues. The publication also highlights the need to invest in domestic capacities to be prepared now and in the future to keep food safe and to ensure that trade flows smoothly. The publication also illustrates some of the drivers of change in the area of food regulation, underlining the need for governments to be constantly attentive and ready to pick up on challenges and new opportunities, be they related to human health, consumer preferences or evolutions in technology. Members will need strong institutions and national capacity to respond to these challenges, both domestically and in the dynamic international system of food standards and trade rules that they have created. They will need to be flexible and forward looking, to enjoy the benefits and manage the risks the future holds, mindful that food is a commodity like no other.

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