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Codex Commission Adopts New Food Additive and Labeling Proposals

Sep 02, 2008

The Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted several dairy-specific proposals at its annual meeting in July, helping to improve the U.S. dairy industry's access to global markets. IDFA staff members Allen Sayler and Cary Frye played key roles as members of the Codex committees that developed the proposals and gained international consensus leading up to final adoption.

In the area of food additives, the commission adopted a guideline for the use of flavorings and a new international standard that will allow more dairy additives in creams and prepared creams. Another success involved the use of annatto coloring, which many dairy processors use to add the yellow or orange color to cheese and other products. Annatto had been removed from all newly updated Codex cheese standards in 2007, but the commission approved the additive for all Codex cheese standards, as well as for many other Codex dairy standards.

Sayler, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards, represented the food-additive interests of IDFA and the dairy industry and led the International Dairy Federation delegation at the Codex Committee on Food Additives meeting in April.

"Differences between countries on food additives are one of the main barriers that dairy exports face around the world," Sayler said. "We're very pleased that our committee's proposals reached final adoption, because they help to further our goal of creating a uniform and internationally recognized food-additive system that can by used by all Codex member countries."

The commission also adopted a proposal that expands the definition of advertising without limiting how dairy processors selling internationally may communicate new health and nutrition claims on product labels. At the Codex Committee on Food Labeling meeting earlier this spring, delegations from the United States, Australia and New Zealand worked with IDF to narrow the proposal so that the new definition would exempt academic papers, text books, websites, educational material and professional advice from other sources, including government agencies and professional organizations.

"This exemption is important because the proposal could have limited the communication of emerging science that is often used by generic advertising campaigns, like the Milk Processor Education Program or the National Dairy Council campaigns," said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs, who was a lead delegate at the committee meeting.

Another positive outcome from the committee's work this spring was the adoption of a new quantitative ingredient declaration regulation. This regulation specifies how much of an ingredient can be included in a product before it must be declared on the label. Frye and other members of the U.S. delegation worked successfully to limit the proposal to require a percentage only under certain circumstances, such as when an ingredient is emphasized on the label in words, photos or graphics.

Codex decisions on standards 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.

An executive summary of the Codex Commission's meeting is available at For more details, contact Sayler at or 202-220-3544.


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