The debate surrounding the adoption of proposed standards for the feed ingredient ractopamine at the 33rd session of the Commission of the Joint FAO1 /WHO2 food standards programme Codex Alimentarius highlights the need to demonstrate the strength of the Codex process through sound, science-based decision-making, says the International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH). Codex Alimentarius’ foremost aim is to safeguard consumers’ right to food that is safe, of good quality and suitable for consumption, to protect the health of consumers and to facilitate the import and export of safe food. Codex has produced a collection of internationally-adopted food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to fulfil this role. A general principle underlies the adoption of the non-binding and consensus-based Codex standards: it shall be based on the “principle of sound scientific analysis and evidence” (Codex Procedural Manual, 19th edition). Ractopamine has been examined in detail several times over the past eight years by the various bodies related to Codex – its Commission, its Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Food (CCRVDF) and its independent scientific advisory body, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)3 – to establish an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) and a set of Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) standards for its safe use in food-producing animals. The scientific conclusions were consistent over the years: the human safety regarding the use of ractopamine has been clearly established through several studies. The Commission now agreed to hold the proposed standards at step 8. “This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the strength and dependability of the Codex process – that it bases its decisions on science, and that – even in the face of conflicting national preferences – it stays with its decision, especially when, as in this case, the science-based recommendation is clear. This current delay reflects the challenge that the Codex standards-setting process has in addressing national preferences without interfering with its own scientific advice”, stated IFAH Executive Director Barbara Freischem. “The animal health industry highly respects and values the work done by the Codex Alimentarius and especially its emphasis on science-based decision-making. Its work is critical to meeting global food security needs through the import and export of safe food.” In the spirit of ensuring a dependable scientific process of Codex, IFAH acknowledges the efforts undertaken by the delegates and the chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, to resolve the issue and is supportive of the informal solution to propose options to the next session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
1 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), see www.fao.org
2 World Health Organization (WHO), see www.who.int
3 see http://www.who.int/ipcs/food/jecfa/en/
Notes for editors
Codex Alimentarius The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The main purposes of this Programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations. http://www.codexalimentarius.net/
The International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH) is an organisation representing manufacturers of veterinary medicines, vaccines and other animal health products in both developed and developing countries across five continents. The mission of IFAH is to foster a greater understanding of animal health matters and promote a predictable, science-based regulatory environment that facilitates the supply of innovative and quality animal medicines, vaccines and other animal health products into a competitive market place. These products contribute to a healthy and safe food supply as well as a high standard of health and welfare for animals and people.