Codex

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Codex Alimentarius is a series of international standards for food and agricultural products. They help ensure fair trade and consumer protection internationally.

Agreed standards are voluntary, implementation by member countries is not necessarily automatic. However, Codex standards are recognized as reference texts for trade disputes brought before a World Trade Organization (WTO) Disputes panel.

Codex is jointly sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and comprises of more than 185 countries and 1 member organization (The European Union) . Non-governmental organizations, such as consumer, academic or industry bodies, may attend Codex meetings as observers.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is the lead UK Government Department for Codex. However, the Food Standards Agency takes the lead in a number of the vertical committees dealing with, e.g. food hygiene, food additives, food contaminants.

The UK Codex contact point is codex@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

European Union membership of Codex

The European Commission represents all EU countries on matters of EU competence. This means that:

  • The Commission will speak and vote in Codex on behalf of the EU on all issues of exclusive EU competence.
  • The Commission will also speak and vote on behalf of the EU on all issues of mixed competence. The UK and other member states contribute develop the European position.
  • The UK and other EU member states are also able to speak and vote on issues within areas of exclusive, or mixed, member state competence.