A number of countries that are members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and there are others that are involved with Codex and its activities. Codex embodies international standards in food standards and food safety. Participating in Codex activities brings a number of benefits to the member countries especially in the areas of consumer health and international food trade.
The Codex is an international standard for foods based on which a number of countries have built their own national food standards and policy on regulations. The Codex international standards are a robust way to maintain consumers’ health and prevent food borne illnesses. Since there is an increase in food trade among various nations the Codex food standards are acceptable worldwide. Countries also feel obliged to protect consumer health no matter which country the food originates from. Several countries have based their national standards on the Codex standards whether these food products are for domestic consumption or for imports.
A number of nations have also modified their own standards depending on their internal situations and the kinds of food they offer for international trade. Since Codex standards are science based they can be adopted as they are by countries with smaller economies. Since the Codex food standards have been created with due scientific process, countries can save time and money in identifying risk assessment and risk management processes. Codex itself does not offer or provide technical assistance in the developments of any country’s national standards. However, FAO and WHO support countries that wish to harmonize their standards with those of Codex standards.
Since international food standards are agreed upon and negotiated at Codex meetings so each country can place their opinion and position for consideration. Therefore participation in Codex activities makes it possible for each participating country to become aware of the opinions and position of each country in the various regions of the world. These opinions are then taken into consideration when including provisions into standards that could hinder food exports. Smaller economies that have specific products for export could be able to have these products included in the international standards. They would also be able to ensure that these products meet international standards so they are not excluded from international trade. These meetings provide a platform for all countries and also help to protect the interest of consumers and also the agricultural and industrial development. Inputs from various countries help to have standards which are relevant or important for each participating country.
Countries that participate in Codex meetings have a chance to network with countries from all over the world. They also have an opportunity to keep up with new and developing technologies in food safety. They have a chance to share information and views on all aspects of food safety and food quality. They become aware of any international food safety developments especially of there are any trending food safety issues.
Since there has been a growth in food trade hence there is scope for consumers to have a greater access to all the various kinds of foods worldwide. Countries also have a chance to promote their foods for economic benefits. If there is harmony between the national and international food standards it makes it easier to export domestically produced food products as there would be no barriers to trade. Besides the food safety considerations, participating in Codex help all countries to improve their standards of living. They develop international competitiveness which brings about an expansion of trade and economic relationships with newer partners.
If countries are member of Codex as well as World Trade Organization (WTO) then member countries are expected to help set Codex standards. The WTO agreement also provides safety if there are any challenges with trading partners on food safety especially for those countries that have adopted the Codex Standards as their own national standards.