Mainly positive findings from the first Codex survey

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The majority of Codex members are satisfied with the reach and usefulness of Codex texts, according to a survey.

Findings come from the first survey undertaken in 2022 on the use and impact of Codex texts.

Ninety-eight of 189 Codex members responded to the poll. It focused on the following texts: General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food and Feed; General Principles of Food Hygiene; General Standard for the Labelling of Pre-packaged Foods; and General Principles for the Addition of Essential Nutrients to Foods.

Steve Wearne, chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, said: “Monitoring the use and impact of Codex texts provides key information on how Codex is assisting members in protecting consumer health and facilitating fair trade practices. By adhering to Codex standards, members can prevent foodborne illnesses, uphold the credibility of their products in the global marketplace, and build trust among consumers.”

Analysis showed Codex texts to be well used as a baseline to inform food legislation, policies, regulations, programs, and practices at the national level. The documents facilitate communication among members and other stakeholders and establish a common understanding of food safety and quality.

Areas to improve
Only 18 of 49 members in the African region and 13 of 33 from Latin America and the Caribbean responded. As the European Union replied on behalf of some nations, 20 responses were the same.

The main barriers include a lack of awareness of Codex by national stakeholders, challenges to catch up with changes in Codex texts, language issues, a lack of resources, and duration of text development.

52 low- and middle-income countries reported a more significant impact of Codex texts supporting legislation, policies, national food control systems, university courses, training, and awareness raising. Overall, 46 high-income countries said they generally have more established food control systems, more resources, and advanced technical expertise.

Respondents indicated that at least “some” additional knowledge was gained through general and selected Codex texts.

Participants said that Codex texts “completely” or “mostly” support national food control systems, and the documents “mostly” or “somewhat” helped increase awareness of food safety and quality issues and evidence-based interventions and recommendations.

Texts are also used to inform and update food safety and quality training, educational programs, and related tools.

Codex officials said findings highlighted the need for efforts to monitor and address the challenges members face in implementing and utilizing Codex texts. Recommendations include increasing awareness of the texts among national stakeholders, prioritizing capacity building and training, and improving dissemination.

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