The new service could therefore act as an important tool in smoothing the transition towards a general harmonisation of global food laws.
The Codex General Standard for Food Additives in particular sets forth the conditions under which food additives may be used in different food products.
Only the food additives listed are permitted for use in foods, and only food additives that have been evaluated by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and found acceptable for use in foods are included in this standard.
In addition, the standard sets forth the conditions under which permitted food additives may be used in all foods, whether or not they have previously been standardised by Codex. Food categories or individual food items where the use of food additives are not allowed or are restricted are also defined, and maximum levels are set. GSFA Online will allow users to search the standard by food additive, such as name or synonym, by functional class of additives, and by food category.
The website, www.codexalimentarius.net/gsfaonline, will also provide up-to-date information on the food additives provisions contained in the Codex GSFA to all users, including regulatory authorities, consumers and industry.
The service is available in English, French and Spanish. In addition, a CD-ROM version of GSFA Online will soon be available.
Codex Alimentarius, established by the United Nations in 1961, establishes guidelines to harmonise trade in food and although the standards are not binding, they tend to influence less liberal markets and those without a regulatory framework in place, particularly common in supplements.
While the Codex guidelines are still some way behind regulations in place in the US, and rules currently being drafted by Europe, other markets without regulation in this area may look to Codex when designing new laws in the future.