JOINT FAO/WHO FOOD STANDARDS PROGRAMME
CODEX ALIMENTARIUS COMMISSION
Twenty-Third Session, FAO Headquarters, Rome, 28 June - 3 July 1999
Agenda Item 9
PROPOSED STANDARD ON FOOD ADDITIVES AND CONTAMINANTS,
Comments of the
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CONSUMER FOOD ORGANIZATIONS
Draft General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA)
Table 1 (Additives Permitted for Use Under Specified Conditions in Certain Food Categories
or Individual Food Items) (at Step 8)
The International Association of Consumer Food Organizations (IAFCO) believes that Codex Standards that attempt to harmonize national regulatory requirements should represent a leveling up, not a leveling down, of measures to protect consumers. In the area of food additive regulation, this means that the General Standard should be limited to those additives that are in wide use around the world and universally recognized as safe.
Unfortunately, the approach taken in preparing the draft General Standard has led to the inclusion of a number of additives not currently approved for certain or all uses by some member nations. The inclusion of such additives in the General Standard could pressure such countries to permit imports of foods containing certain additives even though the use of those substances has not been sanctioned under domestic pre-market approval systems. The World Trade Organization Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures specifically provides that:
Thus, the Codex General Standard could pressure certain member countries that operate approval systems to create exemptions to those systems in order to facilitate trade. Such efforts will undermine consumer confidence in the food supply and reduce support for international trade agreements.
- Where an importing Member operates a system for the approval of
the use of food additives....which prohibits or restricts access to its domestic
markets for products based on the absence of an approval, the importing
Member shall consider the use of a relevant international standard as the
basis for access until a final determination is made.1
IAFCO thus urges the Commission to reconsider the inclusion in the General Standard of additives that are not approved for use by member countries that operate pre-market approval systems. International harmonization can only benefit consumers if international standards represent a leveling up, not a leveling down, of national regulatory requirements.
If the Commission chooses not to adopt these recommendations, then it should consider redesignating the General Standard on food additives as an advisement. Because an advisement does not carry the force of law under the SPS agreement, it would not raise the possibility that domestic regulations that ban or restrict the use of certain food additives would have to be revised in response to concerns about the impact of these regulations on international trade.
1Annex C (1)(i), SPS Agreement