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Thursday, 19 May 2011

For safer food and feed

When the EU adopts food and feed standards, its decisions are generally in line with the work of the UN's Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) which establishes standards at global level. At the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 17 May, ministers were briefed on the work accomplished under the Hungarian Presidency. Food additives and rules on labelling and hygiene are some examples where the Codex has established a collection of standards and practices recognised worldwide. The aim is twofold: give consumers access to safe food of good quality and ensure fair practices in global trade with food. Among the latest negotiated achievements are the setting of maximum levels for melamine, a dangerous chemical substance fraudulently introduced into baby food; the promotion of the EU's approach to food additives and pesticide residues; the preservation of the authenticity of virgin olive oil; and a code of practice for smoked fish. Some sensitive issues have not been resolved and will be discussed in the near future, such as for example the development of guidelines on GMO labelling, which remains very controversial, in particular between the US and the EU. The issue has been on the agenda since 1996 and, despite intense negotiations, no real progress has been achieved. Another difficult question is the setting of maximum residue levels for ractopamine, a growth promoter used for pigs and cattle in certain third countries, but resolutely rejected by the EU, which has banned the use of this substance in meat production since 1989. Although the standards are only recommendations and not legally binding, they frequently provide the basis for decisions taken by the World Trade Organization in disputes, and are transposed into national legislation. The Codex Alimentarius Commission is an international organisation established under the United Nations.

Source: Council of Ministers