Food safety

40th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Geneva, 17 - 22 July 2017

What's new today? New International Food Safety Standards protecting consumer health and ensuring fair practices in trade

Tuesday 18 July 2017 - Decisions adopted

Members of the international food standards-setting body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, are considering today the adoption of international standards and code of practices.

  • Agreed - Future work on maximum levels of mercury in fish

    Mercury, a naturally occurring element, can harm human health in various ways. It accumulates in fish in the form of methylmercury.

    The Codex Alimentarius Commission has decided to start new work to establish maximum levels of methylmercury for certain fish: tuna, alfonsino, kingfish/amberjack, marlin, shark, dogfish and swordfish.

    Fish that live for a long time, and are higher in the food chain, have higher levels of methylmercury in their bodies. Mercury can have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems of humans, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.

    The new work of the Commission will take into account the negative health effects of methylmercury, as well as the health benefits of nutrients in fish.
  • Agreed - Code of Practice for the reduction of 3-MCPD esters and glycidyl esters in refined oils and products made with refined oils, especially infant formula

    The Codex Alimentarius Commission has approved new work aimed at reducing certain contaminants in refined oils, which are used also in infant formula, chemicals known as 3-MCPD esters and glycidyl esters, which JECFA has concluded pose certain risks to consumer health.

    After detailed consideration by the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods, the Commission decided a new code of practice would be developed, laying out explicit guidance for producers and users to reduce the presence of 3-MCPD and glycidyl esters in refined oils, such as rapeseed, soya bean, sunflower, safflower, walnut and especially palm oils

    The participatory, consensus-based process to develop the future code of practice would aim to ensure the production of a safe product to protect consumer health and ensure trade flow of refined oils by producing countries.
  • Agreed - Guidelines for risk analysis of chemicals inadvertently present in food at low levels

    The Codex Alimentarius Commission has approved new work to address substances like cleaning agents used in the various stages of food production and processing and may inadvertently end up in our food.

    The Commission, under the auspices of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods, will develop risk-analysis guidelines, drawing on existing science and best practices from around the world.

    These guidelines will provide an internationally harmonized approach to help regulators address possible public-health and trade issues when responding to the inadvertent presence of low levels of chemicals for which no international recommendations or national legislation exist. used in the various stages of food production and processing and may inadvertently end up in our food.
  • Agreed - New work on antimicrobial resistance

    Following global action to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the Codex Alimentarius Commission has agreed to start new work to revise the 2005 Code of practice to minimise and contain antimicrobial resistance and develop Guidance on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance along the food chain.

    AMR is a serious threat to human health. Bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites are all microbes that cause diseases in humans and animals. All types of microbes can develop resistance to medicines naturally over time. But overuse and misuse of medicines, like antibiotics, in people and animals is speeding up the process. Common infections are now becoming resistant to available treatments.

    In 2015, resolutions on tackling antimicrobial resistance were adopted by governments at WHO’s World Health Assembly and the FAO Conference, as well as the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) World Assembly of Delegates.