The aim of Codex is to establish international food standards to protect the health of consumer and to ensure fair practices in the food trade. Therefore when accepting proposals for new standards the Codex Alimentarius Commission takes into consideration the following. Any new work proposal for standards must
- protect consumer health
- prevent fraudulent practices
- harmonize diversified national legislation
- take into consideration volume of production and consumption, volume and pattern of trade and international or regional market potential
The Process for new Standards
The process follows the 8-step procedure which is the full process as shown above or a 5 step procedure where the new proposal for standards are either abandoned or sent for revision. The process begins with the initial proposal which has to be according to established procedures. From here the proposal goes for critical reviews where the new standards can be either abandoned or sent for revision or allowed to proceed. Once proposals have been allowed to proceed then Codex will consult governments, interested parties and have a committee debate on the new standard. After it has received approval and is adopted then there will be a mid-term review and only after that will there be an endorsement. After the 8 point procedures are cleared, the guidelines for the new standards will be entered into the Codex Alimentarius.
Proposals are made by countries or group/s of countries
All new work for elaborating on standards undertaken by a Codex Committee must be approved by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Proposals for new work are presented at the Committee level, usually at the request of a country or group of countries, and are then forwarded to the Commission by means of a project document. Countries or groups of countries have to decide if the work is to be introduced to a Codex committee or to the Codex Commission Exec. They must understand the relevant criteria for establishing work and must be satisfied that the new work falls within the remit of CAC. They must also have suitable justification for the new proposal, including scientific data wherever relevant. Before taking the time and effort to prepare a project document for new work, they must introduce the proposal to the relevant Committee to ascertain if there is support from the Committee. If any member countries in the Committee object to the proposal for new work, they must gather information on the concerns and objections that have been put forth.
When recommending new work
If a country, or group of countries, is considering promoting a new standard, or the revision to an existing one then there are several considerations which must be determined. They must
- Confirm that the proposed work is being referred to the right Committee
- Determine whether the standard under consideration is globally applicable or is more appropriate for use at a regional level
- Assess the proposed work against the relevant criteria for establishing work priorities.
- Verify that the proposed work falls within the priorities that were established by the Commission in the Strategic Plan of Work
- Determine if there are any specific relevant strategic projects currently being undertaken by the Commission.
- Determine the feasibility of completing the work within a reasonable period of time
- Establish the need for and availability of scientific advice
Criteria for the establishment of work priorities
When accepting proposals for new standards Codex has to consider the new work in the light of criteria for establishing work priorities. The committees will make an assessment of the proposed work based on the following
- Criteria applicable to General Subject committees
- The Committee will have to see whether the work will cause any diversification in national legislatures.
- They have to also consider if it will result in or have the potential to impede international trade.
- See the scope of the work and the establishment of priorities between the various sections of the work.
- Identify if the work is already being undertaken by any other international organizations in this field and/or suggested by the relevant international intergovernmental body or bodies.
- Criteria applicable to Commodity committees
- The commodity committee will take into consideration the volume of production and consumption in individual countries and volume and pattern of trade between countries.
- See whether the work will cause any diversification in national legislatures and if it will result or have the potential to impede international trade
- If it has international or regional market potential
- Determine whether the commodity is suitable for standardization
- Ensure that the commodity covers all the main consumer protection and trade issues in existing or proposed general standards
- Determine the number of commodities which would require separate standards and indicate whether these will be raw, semi-processed, or processed
- Determine if the work is already being undertaken by other international organizations in this field and/or suggested by the relevant international intergovernmental body
The countries will need to include in the project document the assessment made by the committee according to the above criteria
In the first step all new work that is to be undertaken by any subsidiary body of the Codex Alimentarius Commission requires the preparation of project document.
On the basis of the project document the Committee will consider the proposed work and will decide whether or not to approve the new work.
The project document is also the main key to the Executive Committee’s critical review process as part of its standards management function.
The project documentation must include the following
- Purpose and the scope of the proposed standard
- Its relevance and timeliness
- The main aspects that it will cover
- An assessment against the Criteria for the establishment of work priorities
- Relevance to the Codex strategic objectives
- Information on the relation between the proposal and other existing Codex documents
- Identification of any requirement for and availability of expert scientific advice
- Identification of any need for technical input to the standard from external bodies so that this can be planned for
- The proposed time-line for completion of the work, including the start date, the proposed date for adoption by the Commission; the time frame for developing a standard should not normally exceed five years.