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Codex Food Additive Committee Adopts, Retains Key Provisions for Dairy

Mar 30, 2009

More than 40 food additive provisions with relevance for IDFA members were either adopted or blocked from deletion at the Codex Committee on Food Additives meeting held earlier this month in Shanghai, China. Allen Sayler, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards, represented the association, member companies and others in the dairy industry as the head delegate for the International Dairy Federation.

One adopted provision will allow companies to continue to use nisin, which is commonly used in cheese to reduce spoilage and extend shelf life. Another provision finalized acceptable levels of lycopene, used in products to provide red coloring, for the Codex Standard for Fermented Milk (yogurt). This provision had been blocked by the European Union at last year's committee meeting.

"The U.S. dairy industry’s participation here is critical to domestic dairy exports," Sayler said. "The committee's food additive provisions provide the basis for allowing companies to challenge extreme or non-uniform food additive provisions in importing countries."

According to Sayler, the committee is increasingly challenged to reach agreement while the European Union undergoes a comprehensive review of many common food additives, particularly food colors. Approximately 220 delegates, representing 56 countries and 25 observer organizations attended the meeting and reviewed approximately 700 food additive provisions.

The committee, however, did not address the inconsistencies between the Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GFSA) and the Codex dairy standards. IDFA and IDF will continue to emphasize in future meetings the importance of resolving this issue.

“The committee needs to take more serious steps to merge the two Codex food additive systems to simplify the process and remove existing confusion,” Sayler said.

Country standards for acceptable food additives and their levels vary significantly, and these differences can be barriers to U.S. dairy exports. But 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.

Other meeting highlights:


The committee adopted a uniform definition for the term “plain” related to food category descriptions in the GSFA to provide consistency between plain fermented milks (yogurt) in GSFA and the Codex standard for fermented milks. The committee discontinued or revoked 29 food additives, requested additional information on 40 other food additives and recommended final adoption of 30 food additives in many food categories by the Codex Alimentarius Commission at its July meeting. Indonesia will redraft the proposed “Guideline for Substances Used as Processing Aids” with New Zealand’s assistance for review at the committee's 2010 meeting.

The full committee report is available here. Members with questions may contact Sayler at or 202-220-3544.


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