What Is the Codex Alimentarius?


Quick Answer

The Codex Alimentarius is a collection of international guidelines, safety standards and procedures for food preparation, quality and trade. While the Codex has general standards for food labeling, hygiene and additives, specific standards are available for items such as meat, milk and produce.

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Full Answer

As of 2015, the Codex has over 200 standards for raw, semi-processed and processed foods and over 40 hygienic codes for food handling during importation and exportation. It has evaluated over 1,000 additives, such as beeswax, lactic acid and magnesium sulfate, and set over 30 guidelines for food contaminants. It has also evaluated over 54 veterinary drugs, such as Zeranol and Erythromycin, as well as studied and set maximum levels for over 3,000 pesticide residues.

All Codex Alimentarius standards, guidelines and procedures are written in English and available as downloadable PDFs on the Codex's website, CodexAlimentarius.org. Translations into French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese are also available.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission maintains the Codex Alimentarius' standards and guidelines. The commission is based in Rome, Italy, and is funded by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Its goals consist of establishing fair international food trade practices, resolving food contamination and safety disputes, and ensuring public health worldwide.

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