Codex Committee on Food Labeling Endorses Country-of-Origin Provisions
The Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) last week endorsed a long-debated provision that would require mandatory country-of-origin labeling for 16 types of cheese.
If adopted, this provision would provide consumers with clear information about where the cheese is manufactured and avoid confusion about the geographical region where the name of the cheese originated.
"Getting this issue resolved is very important for our members. In addition to giving accurate information to consumers, the provision will protect the generic nature of cheese within various types of cheese and encourage world trade," said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs. Frye attended the meeting last week in Ottawa along with IDFA Senior Vice President Clay Hough.
The Codex committee based its decision to endorse the provision in large part on an educational paper provided by the International Dairy Federation (IDF) Standing Committee on Food Labeling and Terminology, which Frye chairs. The paper included background information, explained the intent of the labeling provision, and presented the mandatory country-of-origin information that would be required on labels.
"We'd also like to commend the many U.S. government officials, especially from the U.S. Trade Representative's office, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who gave a significant amount of time and effort to this issue and contributed to its ultimate endorsement," Frye said.
The endorsement will pave the way for final adoption of 16 draft cheese standards at the next session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in July. The commission previously approved all provisions except country-of-origin labeling in the draft standards at its meeting last year. Following final adoption, the old cheese standards, which date back to the 1960s, will be withdrawn.
Although the proposed labeling requirement differs from U.S. regulations, the American and European cheese industries mutually endorse country-of-origin labeling to create a level playing field for cheeses in world trade.
The endorsed provision states: "The country of origin (which means the country of manufacture, not the country in which the name originated) shall be declared. When the product undergoes substantial transformation in a second country, the country in which the transformation is performed shall be considered the country of origin for the purpose of labeling."
The country-of-origin provision would apply to cheese standards for brie, camembert, cheddar, cottage cheese, coulommiers, cream cheese, danbo, edam, emmental, gouda, havarti, mozzarella, provolone, samso, St. Paulin and tilsiter.
Codex decisions on cheese standards and food additives can have a significant impact on IDFA members that export dairy products, since many Codex standards are enforced by importing countries and can be used to resolve World Trade Organization disputes.
For more information, contact Frye at email@example.com or 202-220-3543.
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Posted May 7, 2007