The Codex Alimentarius committee dealing with hygiene is meeting this week in the US, with member countries debating a number of international food safety standards that will apply worldwide.
Included on the agenda are discussions on guidelines for microbiological risk management, oncontrolling Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods, a revision to the code of hygienicpractice for egg products, a code for powdered formulae for infants and young children,general hygiene control methods, and the use of lactoperoxidase in milk.
The Codex Alimentarius is a global body set up by the Food and Agricultural Organisation and theWorld Health Organisation as a means of getting countries to adopt international food safetystandards and other guidelines.
The standards are recognised as international benchmarks by one of the multilateral agreements ofthe UN World Trade Organization (WTO) and aim to help international food trade by eliminating manyof what the UN calls "unjustified technical barriers" set up by some countries.
Agreements forged at the hygiene committee meeting in Houston, Texas from 4-9 December could eventually affect the way processors operate worldwide as they become incorporated into national laws.
The Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) drafts basic provisions on food hygiene for all foods. The term 'hygiene' also includes microbiological specifications for food andthe associated methodology.
Other discussions during the week focus on the use of food safety and performanceobjectives.
The previous meeting of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 14-19 March 2005. At this meeting thecommittee dealt with basically the same agenda. The current agenda is now considering the redraftsof the various proposed standards. They also agreed to place the five proposals for new work areas into the Committee's work management system and prepare the written proposals ofthem.
Once completed the standards are then sent for consideration before the full Codex Alimentariusfor passage. Since 1963, the Codex has adopted about 200 commodity standards.