Countries of Europe and Central Asia explore the food safety areas critical for 2020–2025

Consumers want food to be not only accessible, tasty, and nourishing, but primarily safe and healthy. Therefore, relevant state bodies and authorities – the guardians of food safety – must remain up-to-date to be able to meet the challenges arising day by day.

Starting today, an international workshop in Almaty, Kazakhstan, organized by the Secretariat of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, FAO and WHO, is helping equip national food safety authorities with practical knowledge and skills to operate successfully in the Codex standard-setting environment. The host country serves as the regional coordinator of the Codex Alimentarius Commission for Europe until 2019.

Established in 1963, the Codex Alimentarius Commission develops standards, recommendations, guidelines, and codes of practice related to food, food production, and food safety and quality. Essentially, the Codex forms a global rule book that everyone in the food chain can follow.

Workshop participants will familiarize themselves with the Codex system in general and learn about its web tools. They’ll also learn to run an effective national Codex programme. Gaining up-to-date information on improved working procedures and on the growing use of web tools as part of the Codex system will enable Codex member countries to enhance their efficiency in contributing to Codex work.

For the 16 countries present – from the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia – it is essential from the perspective of international trade to know how to access Codex documents, standards and databases (and thereby meet Codex requirements) and to make optimal use of Codex texts as a basis for national food standards.

“The session will provide an opportunity to look at Codex from both a regional and country perspective and, with a clear focus on regional food standards issues, examine how they would like to see it evolve in the future,” said lead trainer David Massey, FAO special advisor on Codex partnership programmes.

The workshop also will serve as a forum for participants to highlight their national food safety and quality issues. This way, they can provide input on the Codex Strategic Plan for 2020–2025 – to be adopted during the Forty-second Codex Alimentarius Commission in July 2019 – and begin preparations on key areas for discussion at the next session of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Europe in October 2019.

Participants will have preliminary talks on the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Europe, including roles and responsibilities, to ensure the Committee can serve as a forum for discussion and information exchange on food safety, quality, and standards relevant to the region.

The workshop will channel the region’s experiences and approaches into the global agenda. By doing so, Massey said, the workshop will “improve the quality and relevance of the Codex Strategic Plan with contributions from the region, and thereby increase ownership over the plan by countries of Europe and Central Asia.”

Focusing on the specific objectives and goals of the draft, participants will be encouraged to assess those goals against national realities and examine how effectively the draft text responds to national or regional needs.

In today’s world, with its complex food systems, all levels must be vigilant and work in cooperation along the same standards, and the Codex assists countries in these efforts.

Оlga Grebennikova 

UN Food and Agriculture Organization

Communication Consultant

for Central Asia