USDA seeks industry comments on Codex standards

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Codex alimentarius, Food

The US Department of Agriculture’s Office of Food Safety (OFS) has said it is seeking comments on the standards-setting activities of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

In a Federal Register document published this week, the OFS outlined Codex’s current activities, which include setting standards for food and dietary supplement ingredients, setting commodity standards, and providing guidelines, codes of practice and revised texts. Codex was created in 1963 by two U.N. organizations, the Food and

Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization to establish internationally recognized food standards to ensure consumer health and fair trade practices.

OFS said it is seeking comments on standards that are currently under consideration, as well as recommendations for new standards for the time period from June 1, 2010 to May 31, 2011.

The Federal Register notice and further information on how to comment can be found online here​.

Updates to the Codex Alimentarius Committee’s standards tend to reflect global ingredient trends. Just this week for example, the Codex Committee has proposed setting a global limit for melamine in food, following the 2008 melamine contamination of milk powder, when Chinese producers of milk powder were found to be routinely using the chemical as a substitute in their products – resulting in at least six deaths and the sickening of 300,000 people.

And last year, as interest increased in the use of stevia extracts as sweeteners, new stevia reference standards were included in the Codex.

Also on the agenda this year, among others:

  • Proposed limits for veterinary drug residues in food
  • Draft provisions for lauric arginate ethyl esters, steviol glycosides, and sulfites
  • A proposal for the revision of food categories, such as cocoa products and chocolate products, including imitation and chocolate substitutes; confectionery, including hard and soft candy and nougats; and toppings (non-fruit), and sweet sauces)
  • Establishment of maximum limits for pesticide residues for specific food items or in groups of food
  • Proposed draft recommendations for the labeling of foods obtained through certain techniques of genetic modification/genetic engineering

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