Codex Committee Moves to Simplify Food Additives System
IDFA made important progress on simplifying food additives standards at the latest meeting of the Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (CCFAC) held in The Hague last month. The committee moved to simplify food additives provisions in all draft dairy Codex standards and eliminate redundancies that can hinder U.S. dairy exports. Allen Sayler, IDFA's senior director of regulatory affairs, led the International Dairy Federation delegation at the April meeting, which drew representatives from 50 countries.
The committee also endorsed food additives provisions in 16 individual Codex draft cheese standards, paving the way for final adoption of the new standards at the main Codex commission meeting this July. The committee approved all provisions in the draft standards for brie, camembert, cheddar, cottage cheese, coulommiers, cream cheese, danbo, edam, emmental, gouda, havarti, mozzarella, provolone, samso, St. Paulin and tilsiter (whey cheese was previously accepted in 2005). The lone exception was annatto extract, a common color used in cheese, which the committee agreed to consider in 2008.
Taking another step forward, committee members removed the food additives provisions for butter, butter oil, anhydrous milkfat, whey cheese, and dried whey from the Codex dairy standards and placed them in the Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA). This step marks a successful beginning to the effort to provide a single reference document for Codex food additives.
"This positive step to simplify the Codex food additives system is the result of years of effort and will remove redundancies that hinder U.S. dairy exporters when they deal with countries that apply the Codex system," Sayler said.
CCFAC also agreed to review ways to transfer food additives provisions from the remaining Codex food standards to the GSFA. The U.S. delegation will draft a discussion document on the topic and present it at next year's CCFAC meeting. Both IDFA and the U.S. government back these simplification efforts.
The entire GSFA is now available as a searchable database on the Codex website (www.codexalimentarius.net/gsfaonline). Sayler commended this progressive step, saying, "Now U.S. dairy processors will have instant access to all the information they need on Codex food additives."
The committee accomplished several other important goals as well.
Members finalized a new preamble, establishing the GSFA as the primary source of information about Codex food additives. Supported by the U.S. and other governments, IDF successfully blocked a requirement that would have required "carriers" and "packing gases" to be included in labeling. These additives are processing aids, not ingredients, and the committee agreed they should not be included. The committee stopped work on a new food additive class for "glazes" and approved additional work for a new food additive class for "flavoring agents." Updating of the Codex Inventory of Processing Aids (IPA) was approved. Correcting and updating the International Numbering System (INS) on food additives also was approved. The committee decided to omit a number of food additives from consideration in the GSFA and endorsed individual food additives in Codex draft standards for dairy blends. Annatto extract and paprika oleorsein, another color for cheese, were added to the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives priority list for a safety evaluation in 2007.
The CCFAC, which also deals with contaminant issues, will be split into two committees, with food additives chaired by China and food contaminants chaired by The Netherlands. This split is expected to become effective in 2007 or 2008.
At this year's meeting, Terry Troxell and Dennie Keefe of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration led the U.S. delegation, which included a number of IDFA supplier members. For more information and details, contact Sayler at 202-220-3544.
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Posted May 8, 2006