IDFA Vice President Cary Frye represented the interests of the global dairy industry earlier this month at the Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. The committee considered a variety to proposals for new international labeling regulations and claims about levels of specific nutrients in foods, such as no-added sugar, salt and trans fatty acids. It also considered a request to provide advice on the labeling nomenclature for a draft regional standard for non-fermented soybean products that could be used for trade purposes in Asian countries.
"We were able to provide key information to the committee on the impact of labeling for dairy products for claims of no salt or sugar added and delay work on a trans fatty acid-free claim pending development of analytical methods to measure trans fatty acids in milk products," said Frye, who serves as chair of the International Dairy Federation's (IDF) Standing Committee on Food Labeling. She participated as the head of the IDF delegation at the session, which drew 200 delegates representing 58 counties and numerous international organizations.
The international dairy industry was instrumental in getting the European Union, India, Ghana, Brazil and Argentina to support IDF’s request for the committee to reconsider the labeling of liquid soybean products as “soybean beverage” or “soybean drink.” The committee decided not to endorse the draft standard’s labeling provisions; instead it suggested that the Codex coordinating committee for Asia should consider using existing Codex labeling standards that prohibit the use of dairy terms like “milk” for other beverages, such as soy, if consumers in that region would be misled by the use of the name.
Committee Considers New Work Items
A number of new work items were proposed that could affect milk and dairy foods, including new proposals to review the Codex General Standard for Labelling of Pre-packaged Foods (GLSPF), which require date-marking for food products from New Zealand. The committee also agreed to consider a definition for labeling of crops and foods that are derived from “bio-fortification,” which naturally selects through plant and animal breeding or feeding to increase a specific nutrient. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) raised the topic to determine how these foods should be labeled to distinguish them from foods that are genetically engineered.
The delegation from India wanted Codex standards to define more clearly the labeling of wholesale packages. The committee agreed that a discussion paper should be the first step to identity gaps in existing Codex standards and implications for trade related to wholesale packages; the paper will be discussed at the next session. Algeria also will prepare a discussion paper addressing issues associated with labeling foods sold via the Internet.
Because the committee’s current workload is lessening, members decided to hold future meetings every 18 months rather than yearly. The next session, which Canada will host, will be held in the fall of 2015.
Codex decisions on standards can have a significant impact on IDFA members that export dairy products, since many Codex standards are often adopted by importing countries and are used to resolve World Trade Organization disputes.
IDF's summary of the meeting is available here.
For more information, members may contact Frye at firstname.lastname@example.org.