Xavier Remongin / agriculture.gouv.fr

The Committee on General Principles of the Codex Alimentarius, the organization responsible for setting international food standards, is chaired by France (all committees of Codex are chaired by a representative of a country, elected by the others: for instance, the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene is chaired by an American). The 31st session of this committee took place in Bordeaux, France, from March 11 to 15. France wished to give new life to this meeting under the theme of new technologies, which led, under the leadership of the new president Jean-Luc Angot, to a record participation: 70 delegations were present, with a total of 220 delegates.

The norms set by the Codex guarantee to consumers that products put on the market are safe and encourage faire trade practices. They help protect the environment and in fighting against food waste by unifying practices relating to food expiration dates. Founded on a solid and independent scientific evaluation, the norms take into account societal and consumer expectations and demands.

This committee was an opportunity for members to envision useful working tools that are both modern and efficient, with debates relating to the organization of work. It also presented an opportunity to reflect on improving work practices and global performance of the Codex Alimentarius. France is convinced that this cross-disciplinary committee can serve as a laboratory for innovations at the service of all. Working procedures are founded on consensus and the participation of all concerned actors. This is part of the general framework of multilateralism supported by France. A new session of the committee is already planned to continue reflection in 2020.

What is the Codex Alimentarius?

The Codex Alimentarius, which operates under the joint authority of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, is an international organization bringing together 188 members and the European Union. It is responsible for coming up with and revising international norms relating to food safety and consumer information. These norms help to both promote healthy and sustainable food and to guarantee fair trade practices between member states.

Through these efforts, the Codex Alimentarius helps to improve global food systems and to meet sustainable development goals. Some examples of norms: Food labeling, pesticide or veterinary medication residue limits, analytical methods, health certification procedures, and fighting antibiotic resistance, among others.