Time has come to create more awareness about Codex: Azad

“The Codex Commission is shouldering the responsibility of laying down the global parameters of quality and safety of food products for human consumption. This ensures the health of the consumers and fair practices in the export and import of food products,” said Union minister of health & family wefare, Ghulam Nabi Azad,in Rome recently.

Addressing the Inaugural programme of the 36th Session of Codex Alimentarius Commission on the occasion of 50 years of the commission’s sessions, Azad said, “Gone are the days when each country and local populace confined themselves to food produced domestically. But shrinking of the world due to faster means of travel and communication has led to globalization and commercialization of all sectors including food production, processing and consumption. Whatever is produced in one part of the world is available in other parts due to improved means for import and export today. It is a matter of satisfaction that the Codex Alimentarius has achieved several milestones since its inception in meeting the challenges of health of consumers and fair practices in the trade of food products’’.

The membership of the commission has grown from 30 countries to 150 countries over the last 50 years. This is on account of the keen interest and trust evinced by the developing countries in the Codex process, making Codex a truly international food standards-setting organization of the United Nations. Another achievement is that Codex has expanded its role into a variety of products and subject matters to address quality, safety and nutrition issues. The science-based framework adopted by Codex gives this institution a pre-eminent position in the area of safety of human health and fair trade practices.
The minister said, “Time has come to create more awareness about Codex in different countries so that the benefits of the important work done by Codex Alimentarius is further spread among all countries, especially in the developing countries that comprise almost 70% of the world population. On the occasion of 50th anniversary of Codex, India has made a small contribution by developing an exhaustive set of Frequently Asked Questions on Codex and has provided the same to the Codex Secretariat as part of communication strategy for greater global awareness. Since Codex has developed several standards and guidelines for various kinds of food products, all countries should harmonize their national standards with those of the Codex to implement food safety systems and good agricultural and manufacturing practices.

’’There is a need to set up appropriate food testing laboratories and put in place certification procedures for facilitating availability of safe food to consumers. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) have already taken initiatives in this direction. The benefits of Codex Trust Fund are available to eligible countries since 2003. This is a helpful initiative which has supported countries in their participation in Codex meetings so that Codex is able to create truly international standards. The Fund has also been useful in capacity building activities in the developing countries’’.

The minister said as the Codex Trust Fund is coming to an end in 2015, efforts should be made to ensure continuity of the mechanism to support countries that need Codex the most. Development of science-based standards requires sufficient funds. For this reason, FAO and WHO have to consider providing higher allocation of funds for this activity which is the very basis of Codex standards. An alternative means for mobilization of resources should also be explored while ensuring transparency and avoiding any conflict of interest. It will be helpful if countries come forward to support this common cause.

Talking about India, Azad said, “India is playing an active role in all Codex meetings and working groups. India has received support from FAO, WHO and some trading partners in capacity building in area of food safety management. The Government of India is going to make unprecedented investments, both at the federal and provincial levels, to strengthen the food regulatory system during 12th Plan (2012-17).’’ He congratulated all for their contribution, for health of the people, across the world.

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