Rosetta Newsome. PhD

A total of 538 delegates representing 99 Codex member countries, one member organization, and 58 observer organizations attended the 42nd Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in July, in Geneva, Switzerland. Among those making opening remarks, Guilherme Antonio da Costa, Jr., chairperson of the Commission, commented on the importance of the Codex Alimentarius to achieving the combination between the three elements—food security, food safety, and trade.

IFT currently participates in five Codex committees: Food Hygiene (CCFH), Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), Food Additives (CCFA), Contaminants in Foods (CCCF), and Food Labeling (CCFL). Thus, this update is focused on the Commission decisions relevant to these committees.

Food Hygiene

  • Adopted at Step 5 the Proposed draft code of practice on food allergen management for food business operators
  • Approved new work on development of guidelines for the control of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in beef, unpasteurized milk, cheese produced from unpasteurized milk, leafy greens, and sprouts

Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses

  • Adopted at Step 5 the proposed draft scope, description, and labeling in the Review of the Standard for Follow-up Formula for older infants, as endorsed and amended by CCFL; cross-promotion will be further considered by CCNFSDU
  • Clarified that the development of a definition on biofortification was the responsibility of the CCNFSDU, which should further discuss the issue and consider discontinuation following feedback from the CCFL
  • Discontinued work on NRV-NCD (nutrient reference values noncommunicable diseases) for EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA (docosahexaenoic) long-chain omega-3 fatty acids

Food Additives

  • Adopted 154 food additive provisions of the General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) and replacement notes to Note 161 allowing adoption of 111 revised food additive provisions for sweeteners; revised food additive provisions in 23 commodity standards and in the GSFA as part of alignment of food additive provisions between commodity standards and the GSFA; and revisions to the Class Names and the International Numbering System for Food Additives
  • Returned to CCFA for further discussion the draft provision for trisodium citrate (INS 331(iii)) in fluid milk (Food Category [FC] 01.1.1)
  • Adopted at Step 5/8 the proposed draft provisions in FC 01.1.2 “Other fluid milks (plain)” for additives with the technological functions of emulsifier and stabilizer only
  • Discontinued work on draft and proposed draft food additive provisions of the General Standard for Food Additives (REP 19/FA, Para. 137(iii), Appendix VIII)

Contaminants in Foods

  • Adopted Guidelines for Rapid Risk Analysis Following Instances of Detection of Contaminants in Food Where There is No Regulatory Level
  • Adopted Code of Practice for the Reduction of 3-Monochloropropane 1,2-diol Esters (3-MCPDEs) and Glycidyl Esters (GEs) in Refined Oils and Food Products Made with Refined Oils
  • Adopted Maximum Levels (MLs) for lead in selected commodities in the General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food and Feed, with a consequential amendment to the ML for lead in wine
  • Adopted at Step 5 rather than at Step 5/8 the ML for cadmium for chocolates containing or declaring <30% total cocoa solids on a dry matter basis
  • Approved new work on:
    • establishment of MLs for lead in certain food categories
    • revision of the Code of Practice for the Prevention and Reduction of Lead Contamination in Foods
    • development of a Code of practice for the prevention and reduction of cadmium contamination in cocoa beans
    • establishment of MLs for aflatoxins in certain cereals and cereal-based products, including foods for infants and young children

Food Labeling

  • Adopted at Step 5 Proposed draft guidance for the labelling of non-retail containers
  • Approved new work on Proposed draft guidance on internet sales/e-commerce
  • Approved new work on allergen labeling: Revision to the General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods: Allergen Labelling, and Guidance on Precautionary Allergen or Advisory Labelling

These and other decisions are detailed in the meeting report, available at

Among several side events was one addressing FAO and WHO initiatives in capacity development. Highlights included activities relating to antimicrobial resistance, foresight for identifying emerging and critical issues in food safety, and whole genome sequencing. Also, the Joint FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment Tool, the latest of a range of tools to help countries better understand and apply standards and related texts in their national context, is available in pre-publication form. Other items mentioned included the availability of a guide on ranking of microbial and chemical food safety risks and a publication on climate change and food safety.

The deliberations at the Commission meeting reflect tremendous efforts to positively impact food safety, consumer health, and fair practices in trade. IFT offers opportunities for IFT members to learn more about what is being deliberated in Codex, including webinars, blogs, and a new IFT member newsletter. Contact me for more information.

The Codex mandate—protect the health of consumers, ensure fair practices in the food trade, and promote coordination of all food standards (FAO WHO 2018, 2019).

About the Author

Rosetta Newsome, PhD
Director, Science, Policy & Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, IFT
[email protected]


FAO WHO. 2018. Codex: A world full of standards. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization. Annual Report.

FAO WHO. 2019. The year of food safety. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization.