Codex Alimentarius Q&A

Codex Alimentarius Q&A             Back to Codex Alimentarius »

What is Codex?
What are the key parties that influence decisions in the Codex process?
Will Codex affect us in the United States or would it apply only to other countries?
How will Codex attempt to limit our access to higher, therapeutic dosages of nutrients?
Is Codex a real or imagined threat to our ability to access high quality therapeutic dietary supplements in the United States?
When will Codex be implemented?
What is AAHF doing to protect U.S. citizens and populations worldwide from the threat of Codex?
What influence can the consumer have on the Codex process?

What is Codex?
The Codex Alimentarius Commission is an inter-governmental body with over 170 member countries, established in 1963, within the framework of the joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations. Its primary stated purpose is “protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.” The Commission also promotes coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental (NGOs) and non-governmental organizations (INGOs). Guidelines and standards are used as a benchmark for regional/national legislation and in World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes. Work is conducted through almost 30 committees, each dealing with specific areas of food. The outcome is a collection of standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations. Some of these texts are very general, and some are very specific. Some deal with detailed requirements related to a food or group of foods; others deal with the operation and management of production processes or the operation of government regulatory systems for food safety and consumer protection.
What are the key parties that influence decisions in the Codex process?
Codex representation is on a country basis. National delegations are led by senior officials appointed by their governments. Delegations may include representatives of industry, consumers’ organizations and academic institutes, as determined by national governments. Numerous NGOs and INGOs attend in an observer capacity. Observers are able to state their points of view, but are not able to vote and do not take part in any final decision-making processes. Observers are also not invited to attend or participate in Codex Executive Committee meetings.
In 1997, the Codex approved a list of 111 observer organizations comprised of 104 industry-funded groups, six health and nutrition foundations and one international consumer group – Consumers International. One difficulty for health freedom and natural health issues is that Consumers International has been anti-supplement both in Codex and outside, arguing, with surprisingly little evidence to justify their stance, that supplements and natural health products present a risk to consumers and need to be regulated stringently. Currently, the National Health Federation is the only health freedom organization to have observer status within Codex and as such has been a lone voice. Consumers International in theory represents U.S. consumers, but given its opposition to supplements, it has not served health conscious vitamin consumers or integrative medicine practitioners.
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