A recently published joint report from the FAO and WHO that set out to evaluate the Codex Alimentarius Commission reveals the overwhelming belief from Codex members in the inherent value of the Codex food standards.
According to the report, the standards were perceived as vital in promoting food-controlsystems designed to protect consumer health, including issues related to international trade and the agreements on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and on technical barriers totrade at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The capacity-building activities of FAO, WHO and the Codex Alimentarius Commission were found to be continuing to make a substantial contribution both internationally and toindividual countries which were consequently better able to protect their own citizens and to benefit from an increasingly globalised market in food.
The report also identified several main areas for improvement. These include greater speed in Codex Alimentarius Commission work and the provision of expert scientificadvice, the increased inclusion of developing Member States in the Codex Alimentarius Commission standard-development process, including risk assessment, Codex Alimentarius Commission standards that are more useful to Member States in terms of relevance to their needs and timeliness, and finally, more effective capacity-building for development of national food-control systems.
The evaluation, commissioned by the FAO and the WHO, was undertaken by an independent team advised by an independent expert panel. Theevaluation team consisted of five persons, three of whom, including the team leader, were external to the two organisations. The independent expert panel had 10 members drawn from all parts of the world and from stakeholder interests. The evaluation team held discussions with a broad range of government andstakeholder representatives relevant to food production, control and consumption as well as with other international standard-setting organisations.
In the conduct of the evaluation, 24 countries were visited, in all parts of the world and at alllevels of development. Questionnaires were sent to all members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and Member States of the FAO and the WHO that were not members of the CodexAlimentarius Commission and to international nongovernmental organisations and intergovernmental organisations that were observers of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and of WHO.