What is Codex Alimentarius?
The Codex Alimentarius or “food code” in Latin is a collection of internationally adopted food standards and related texts presented in a uniform manner. These food standards and related texts aim at protecting consumers’ health and ensuring fair practices in the food trade. The publication of the Codex Alimentarius is intended to guide and promote the elaboration and establishment of definitions and requirements for foods to assist in their harmonization, and to facilitate international trade. While being recommendations for voluntary application by members, Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is a joint body of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It was established in 1963 with the objective to protect consumers’ health and ensure fair practices in the food trade. Currently the Codex Alimentarius Commission has 189 Codex Members made up of 188 Member Countries and 1 Member Organization (The European Union) and 243 Codex Observers (60 IGOs, 167 NGOs, 16 UN). CAC and its subsidiary bodies elaborated and revised the food standards and related text through a vigorous process that involved multiple steps of consultation and deliberation with members in terms of, inter alia, priorities for proposed subject, scope of work, amenability to standardization and potential international and regional trade, and critical review by the executive branch of CAC before they are adopted at a CAC session.
Each member is responsible to identify and provide to the appropriate committee any new scientific and other relevant information which may warrant on new work on Codex standards, or revision of any existing Codex standards or related texts. Currently there are 22 active and 8 adjourned sine die Codex Committees.
Latest news and Codex standards, guidelines and recommendations can be accessed from the Codex Alimentarius website https://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/home/en/
Malaysia’s participation in Codex
Malaysia has been a member of the Codex Alimentarius Commission since 1971 when the Malaysian Institute of Standards (SIM) was appointed as the Codex Contact Point (CCP) of Malaysia. In 1975, the Standards Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM) was established in place of SIM and it continued the responsibility as a CCP of Malaysia. On March 20, 1996, officially the CCP Malaysia was reassigned to the Food Safety and Quality Division (FSQD), Ministry of Health Malaysia. For Codex regional representation, Malaysia is a member under CCASIA.
In 1985, the National Codex Committee (NCC) was established where its membership was open to all stakeholders of safety and quality of food i.e., government agencies, academia, industries, statutory bodies, professional organizations, consumer associations, and non-governmental organizations.
NCC is the mirror image to the international Codex structure where it coordinates activities of national codex subcommittees (NCSC) in reviewing all draft Codex and Codex standards and representing Malaysia’s interest in all matters pertaining to the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its subsidiary bodies. NCC usually meets prior to a CAC session to discuss on issues that may affect Malaysia’s interest, and to prepare for participation in the session. Likewise, NCSC members will meet for preparatory meeting and conduct consultation with all relevant stakeholders to prepare and develop coordinated country position.
CODEX COMMITTEE IN FATS AND OILS
The Codex Committee on Fats and Oils (CCFO) is a subsidiary body under the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), elaborates worldwide standards for fats and oils of animal, vegetable and marine origin including margarine and olive oil. The CCFO meeting convenes every two years and is attended by Members and Observer organizations from across the globe.
The United Kingdom hosted the first historic session of the CCFO in London, United Kingdom from 25-27 February 1964 and continued hosting the CCFO until the 20th Session in 2007. Malaysia was designated as the host government for CCFO in 2007 and had started hosting the 21st Session of the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils in 2009 chaired by Pn Noraini Binti Mohd. Othman, the previous Senior Director for Food Safety and Quality. She is now succeeded by Pn Norrani binti Eksan, the current Senior Director for Food Safety and Quality.
Since its inception in 1964, CCFO has established 6 standards and 1 Code of Practice. CCFO work does not stop there as demand for healthier fats and oils are increasing, as well as changes in food system, production in new geographical location and technological advancement continue making CCFO work continue to be relevant.