3 February 2013

Cameroon: Harmonised Food International Standards Underway

Some 134 delegates and observers representing 35 member countries and international organisations who took part in the just-ended 20th session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) Food Code forum dubbed, "Codex Alimentaruis" have advocated the establishment of international standards to handle current and emerging food issues. This preoccupation is contained in the final report of the Yaounde confab read out at the end of the session last Friday February 1.

The proposal was in response to the theme of the session, "Standards on food items and food security: Stakes and Challenges for Africa." Participants were unanimous on the necessity for member countries to scrupulously respect the import/export certification scheme of Codex when importing food items. They said it would help to guard against sub-standards goods which now flood markets causing untold damage to the health of mankind and the economy.

The role of WHO in partnering with Codex member countries in Africa to enhance their capacities in food safety and nutrition surveillance was also highlighted.

As the curtains dropped, participants rejoiced that the objective of the Yaounde session (sensitise African delegates and local authorities on the importance of international standards on food security, improve participants' understanding of the principles guiding the conception and operation of national systems of the control of food items and encourage countries on the use of Codex Alimentaruis standards and texts with national legislations, on the operational practices of enterprises dealing with food items and on the inspection procedures and control of food items) were largely met. The session was essentially to share information and experiences to break linkages so that the availability, understanding and application of standards in the continent would be an affair of all and sundry. Cameroon conserved the Coordinator position for a second term. The 21st session will hold in 2015 in a country yet to be designated.

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