What is CODEX?
The Codex Alimentarius or "Food Code" was established by FAO and the World Health Organization in 1963 to develop harmonised international food standards, which protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade
It is about safe, good food for everyone - everywhere.
International food trade has existed for thousands of years but until not too long ago food was mainly produced, sold and consumed locally. Over the last century the amount of food traded internationally has grown exponentially, and a quantity and variety of food never before possible travels the globe today.
The C O D E X A L I M E N T A R I U S international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice contribute to the safety, quality and fairness of this international food trade. Consumers can trust the safety and quality of the food products they buy and importers can trust that the food they ordered will be in accordance with their specifications.
How CODEX came about
The Eleventh Session of the FAO Conference in 1961 and the Sixteenth World Health Assembly in 1963 both passed resolutions to establish the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The two bodies also adopted the Statutes and Rules of Procedure for the Commission.
The Statutesprovide the legal basis for the Commission’s work and formally reflect the concepts behind and reasons for its establishment. Article 1 of the Statutes provides the Commission with its purposes, terms of reference and objectives. Article 2 defines eligibility for membership of the Commission, which is open to all Member Nations and Associate Members of FAO and WHO. In 2005, membership comprised 171 countries, representing 98 percent of the world’s population. The European Community is a Member Organization.
The Rules of Procedure of the Codex Alimentarius Commission describe and formalize working procedures appropriate to an intergovernmental body. They provide for:
Conditions of membership of the Commission;
Appointment of Commission officers, including the chairperson, three vice-chairpersons, regional coordinators and a secretary, and prescribe their responsibilities;
Establishment of an Executive Committee to meet between Commission sessions, to act on behalf of the Commission as its executive organ;
Frequency and operation of Commission sessions;
Nature of agendas for Commission sessions;
Preparation of Commission records and reports;
Establishment of subsidiary bodies;
Procedures to be adopted in the elaboration of standards;
Allocation of a budget and estimates of expenditure; and
Languages used by the Commission.
Representation. The Commission is truly an international body. Since it was formed, there have been chairpersons from Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Vice-chairpersons have been drawn from Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Senegal, the Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United Republic of Tanzania and the United States of America.
Kenya is FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Africa
Why Kenya should become involved in CODEX
Defines the problems and needs of the region concerning food standards and food control;
Promotes within the Committee contacts for the mutual exchange of information on proposed regulatory initiatives and problems arising from food control and stimulates the strengthening of food control infrastructures;
Recommends to the Commission the development of world wide standards for products of interest to the region, including products considered by the Committee to have an international market potential in the future;
Develops regional standards for food products moving exclusively or almost exclusively in intra regional trade;
Draws the attention of the Commission to any aspects of the Commission's work of particular significance to the region;
Promotes coordination of all regional food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations within the region;
Exercises a general coordinating role for the region and such other functions as may be entrusted to it by the Commission; and,
Promotes the acceptance of Codex standards and maximum limits for residues by member countries.
- Growth in world food trade has created potential opportunities for consumer to have greater access to a wider variety of foods.
As a result of the increase in food trade among nations, there is a greater probability of diseases indigenous in one country to be transmitted to another country in which such diseases had not previously been prevalent.
- Codex is an international risk management body.
- Participation in codex and use of codex standards assists policy –makers in building a sound national food control system, provide food of adequate quality and safety, and to protect consumers.
- Codex forum is for developing standards and provides opportunities to exchange information and share views on food safety and quality issues.
- The World Trade Organization(WTO) agreements provide member countries that adopt codex standards as their national standards with a defense in situations where they are challenged by trading partners. National measures based on codex standards are deemed necessary and thus in compliance with the Sanitary and Phytosanitary ( SPS) Agreement.
- Countries, such as Kenya, that are members of World Trade Organization and therefore are signatories to the SPS and Technical Barrier Trade (TBT) agreements are also expected to participate to the extent possible in the standard-setting work of the codex Alimentarius commission.
The role of Kenya as FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Africa