Health News of Sunday, 14 July 2013
The United Nations food standards body, Codex Alimentarius, has agreed on new standards to protect the health of consumers worldwide.
These include standards on fruit, vegetables, fish and fishery products and animal feed.
A statement signed by Peter Lowrey of the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Media Relations Rome and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Saturday, said Codex also adopted codes on the prevention and reduction of ochratoxin A, a carcinogenic contaminant, in cocoa.
Others are guidance on how to avoid microbiological contamination of berries and on the use of claims for food that is labelled "non-addition of sodium salts" including "no added salt" on food packages, to assist consumers in choosing a healthy diet.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, jointly run by the FAO and the World Health Organisation, sets international food safety and quality standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for consumers worldwide.
It said Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation, and provide the food safety benchmarks for international food trade.
“One of the important work areas for Codex is setting safe limits and giving guidance along the food chain on prevention or reduction of contamination.
Food can become contaminated by heavy metals, fungal toxins or bacteria and viruses,” it stated.
It said the Commission adopted two important codes: prevention and reduction of ochratoxin A, a carcinogenic contaminant in cocoa and of hydrocyanic acid in cassava.
“Fresh berries can be a healthy part of the diet but are also prone to microbiological contamination and have been associated with several food borne illness outbreaks caused by viruses like Hepatitis A, Norovirus, bacteria (E.coli) and protozoa.
“The new Codex text gives advice to producers and consumers on how to prevent this contamination.
“The Commission adopted a number of commodity standards that will protect consumers from fraud and ensure fair practices in the food trade.
“The standards help buyers and sellers establish contracts based on Codex specifications and make sure that the consumers get from the products what they expect,” the statement said.
The Commission also adopted the revised and updated guidelines on formulated supplementary foods for older infants and young children to ensure the health and nutrition of the vulnerable population group.
Furthermore, the Commission adopted hundreds of safe maximum limits for pesticide residues and veterinary drugs and provisions for food additives.
The statement noted that as animal feed could cause contamination in eggs, meat and milk products, the Commission adopted guidance on how to control the feed and assess the risk of contamination.
It said the Commission also adopted guidelines for National Food Control Systems to assist countries in implementing food control.
“The Commission approved its Strategic Plan 2014-2019, which will guide the work on protecting consumers' health and ensure fair practices in the food trade over the next six years,” the statement said.