FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Compliance Imports Standards NCCP Codex Regulation

Q 1: What is meant by Codex Alimentarius?                                              

Ans: The collection of food standards and related texts adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission is known as the Codex Alimentarius.

The term "Codex Alimentarius" is Latin and means "food code”.

The term "food standards" is used in its generic sense and includes all categories of Codex texts, i.e. standards, recommended codes of practice and guidelines.

 

Q 2: What is Codex Alimentarius Commission?

Ans: The Codex Alimentarius Commission (commonly referred to as Codex) is the body established to develop food standards under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The Codex Alimentarius Commission external link external link has its headquarters in Rome. It coordinates input from almost 185 member countries to develop and endorse the standards that comprise the international food code.

 

Q 3: What is the mandate of Codex?

Ans: The mandate of Codex is to establish international food standards to protect the health of consumer and to ensure fair practices in the food trade, while promoting coordination of food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations.

 

Q 4: How is a country benefitted by participation in Codex?

Ans: Participation in Codex, keep abreast of new or pending technological developments and assist policy makers in building a sound national food control system. Moreover, country can also take benefit of the risk assessment carried out by FAO/WHO Expert bodies in developing national food control system.

 

Q 5: Who can be members to Codex Alimentarius?

Ans: The Membership of the Commission is composed of those Members and Associate Members of FAO and WHO that have expressed a desire to be considered as Members of the Commission.

The expression "Members" means nations (or countries) and in the case of FAO also regional economic integration organizations such as the European Community.Currently the Codex Alimentarius Commission has 187 Member Countries and 1 Member Organization (EU); 219 Codex Observers - 56 IGOs, 147 NGOs, 16 UN

 

Q 6: What is Codex Procedural Manual?

Ans: The Codex Procedural Manualis one of the most important Codex documents as it contains:

  • the Statutes of the Commission;
  • the Rules of Procedure; and
  • additionalprocedural information relevant to how the Commission and its subsidiary   bodies function.

 

Q 7: What is the organizational structure of Codex?

Ans: The Codex Alimentarius Commission consists of the following main organizational elements:

  • Commission;
  • Executive Committee;
  • Codex Secretariat;
  • Codex subsidiary bodies.

 

Q 8: What is Executive Committee and its responsibilities?

Ans: The Executive Committee of the Commission (CCEXEC) acts as the executive organ of the Commission. It is the body responsible for managing the standards development process, developing the draft strategic plan, reviewing applications for observer status and making other recommendations about the general direction of the Commission’s work. The Executive Committee meets between Commission sessions. The Executive Committee is chaired by the Chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

 

Q 9: What is the composition of Executive Committee?

Ans: The total membership of the Codex Executive Committee is 17. It is comprised of:

  • Chairperson
  • Three Vice Chairpersons
  • one member country elected from each of the following seven geographic regions:
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Latin America and the Caribbean
    • Near East
    • North America
    • The Southwest Pacific
  • The Regional Coordinators for the six regions

 

Q 10: What is Codex Secretariat?

Ans: The Codex Secretariat is run by staff designated by FAO and WHO, located at FAO headquarters in Rome.It assists the Codex Alimentarius Commission in the implementation of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, reporting to the Director-Generals of FAO and WHO.

 

Q 11: What are Codex subsidiary bodies?

Ans: There are four kinds of Codex subsidiary bodies:

  • General Subject Committees (sometimes referred to as horizontal), which establish standards and guidelines  applicable to all foods;
  • Commodity Committees (sometimes known as vertical), which prepare standards for specific commodities;
  • FAO/WHO Coordinating Committees, through which regions or groups of countries coordinate food standards  activities in the region, including the development of regional standards;
  • Ad hoc Intergovernmental Task Forces, which are time-limited and prepare standards and guidelines on specific issues.

 

Q 12: What are the various General Subject Committees?

Ans: The various Codex General Subject Committees are as below:

 

  • CCCF: Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods
  • CCFA: Codex Committee on Food Additives
  • CCFH: Codex Committee on Food Hygiene
  • CCFICS: Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems
  • CCFL: Codex Committee on Food Labelling
  • CCGP: Codex Committee on General Principles
  • CCMAS: Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling
  • CCNFSDU: Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses
  • CCPR: Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues
  • CCRVDF: Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods

 

Q 13: What is the function of Codex General Subject Committees?

Ans: Codex General Subject Committees have mainly following functions:

  • develop all-embracing concepts and principles applying to foods in general, specific foods or groups of foods
  • endorse or review relevant provisions in Codex commodity standards
  • develop major recommendations pertaining to the health and safety of consumers

 

Q 14: What are the various Codex Commodity Committees?

Ans: The variousCodex Commodity Committees are as below:

  • CCCPL: Codex Committee on Cereals, Pulses and Legumes
  • CCFFV: Codex Committee on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
  • CCFO: Codex Committee on Fats and Oils
  • CCPFV: Codex Committee on Processed Fruits and Vegetables
  • CCS: Codex Committee on Sugars
  • CCSCH: Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (Hosted by India)
  • CCMMP: Codex Committee on Milk and Milk products

 

Q 15: What are FAO/WHO Coordinating Committees?

Ans: There are six coordinating committees, i.e. one each for the following regions:

  • Africa(CCAFRICA)
  • Asia(CCASIA)*
  • Europe (CCEURO)
  • Latin America and theCaribbean (CCLAC)
  • Near East (CCNEA)
  • North America and the Southwest Pacific(CCNASWP)

* India is the current Regional Coordinator for CCASIA

 

Q 16: What are the main functions of FAO/WHO Coordinating Committees?

Ans:  Main functions of FAO/WHO Coordinating Committeesare:

  • promote mutual exchange of information on proposed regulatory initiatives and problems arising from food control;
  • promote the use of Codex standards in the region, and monitor the use of adopted Codex texts; and
  • exercise the general coordination in the preparation of standards related to the specific region or groups of countries.

 

Q 17: What are Ad hoc intergovernmental task forces?

Ans: Ad hoc intergovernmental task forces are established with a specific mandate and for a limited period of time, not normally exceeding four years.

As in the case of the horizontal and vertical committees, these task forces are hosted by a member country.

 

Q 18: Which is the current Ad hoc intergovernmental task force?

Ans: Currently there is Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial resistance. This task force is hosted by Republic of Korea.

 

Q 19: How are Codex Committees composed?

Ans: All Codex committees consist of the following members:

  • a chairperson;
  •  a body of members;
  •  observers who have speaking privileges but not voting right; and
  • a secretariat and a host government (including Secretariat) that facilitates the work of the committee.

 

Q 20: What is the frequency of various Codex meetings?

Ans: Some Codex meetings happen annually like CCFA, CCCF, while other Codex committee meetings happen every 18 – 24 months.

 

Q 21: Who may attend Codex meetings?

Ans: Participation is open to delegations representing member countries and organizations with official observer status.

 

Q 22: How observers can contribute to Codex meetings?

Ans: International organizations with official Observer Status in Codex may also participate in meetings of the various Codex Committees and Task Forces as well as in working groups established.

Observers may make interventions, submit written comments, etc, but only Members (i.e. countries) make decisions.

 

Q 23: What is the relationship between Codex General Subject Committees & Codex Commodity Committees?

Ans: Codex Commodity Committees may ask the advice and guidance of general subject committees having responsibility for matters applicable to all foods on any points coming within their province. In particular, due referral should take place between commodity committees and general subject committees during the elaboration of Codex commodity standards.

These general provisions should only be incorporated into Codex Commodity Standards by reference unless there is a need for doing otherwise.

 

Q 24: How is the chairperson of Codex Committee appointed?

Ans: The CAC designates host country of a committee, a member country which has declared to accept all the responsibilities associated with it.

The member country concerned is responsible for appointing the chairperson of the committee from among its own nationals.

 

Q 25: How can members express their country's views at a meeting?

Ans: Members and observers are permitted to intervene on issues under consideration by the committee. Protocol states that Members speak before observers, and delegations speak only when acknowledged by the chairperson.

Normally, it is the head delegate who has the right to speak but, with the chair's permission, another member of the delegation may speak on technical matters.

 

Q 26: What is meant by working group and how are they established?

Ans: The Codex Committee may establish a working group which will work between sessions, either by electronic means or by actually meeting (i.e. a physical working group).

Working groups may also be established during a committee session to address specific points in an attempt to reach consensus.

Participation in theworking group is open to all Members and Observers of the Commission.

 

Q 27: How are decisions reached at Codex level?

Ans: Decisions at committee or task force level are normally reached by consensus. Voting at this level is extremely rare and efforts are made to come to a solution that is acceptable to all.

 

Q 28: How can international non-governmental organizations play a role in Codex decision making process?

Ans: A wide range of international non-governmental organizations, representing consumers, universities and scientists, industry etc, can take part in Codex work and voice their views. However, final decisions are taken by members' delegations.

 

Q 29: Are Codex Standards mandatory?

Ans: Codex texts are voluntary and non-binding. For harmonization, with regard to food safety, the SPS Agreement has identified and chosen the standards, guidelines and recommendations established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission for food additives, veterinary drug and pesticide residues, contaminants, methods of analysis and sampling, and codes and guidelines of hygienic practice. This means that Codex standards are considered scientifically justified and are accepted as the benchmarks against which national measures and regulations are evaluated.

However, only if there is an adequate scientific justification, members may introduce or maintain sanitary or phytosanitary measures which result in a higher level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection than would be achieved by measures based on the relevant international standards, guidelines or recommendations.

 

Q 30: What is the provision of scientific advice in Codex?

Ans: The scientific basis for Codex work is provided by FAO and WHO. Scientific advice is provided by FAO/WHO expert committees and ad hoc expert consultations.

  • Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA);
  • Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR);
  • Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meetings on Microbiological Risk Assessment (JEMRA).

 

Q 31: What is JECFA?

Ans: The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) is an international expert scientific committee administered jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). It has been meeting since 1956, initially to evaluate the safety of food additives.

 

Q 32: What is the role of JECFA?

Ans: JECFA serves as an independent scientific committee which performs risk assessments and provides advice to FAO, WHO and the member countries of both organizations. The requests for scientific advice are for the main part channeled through the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in their work to develop international food standards and guidelines under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.

 

Q 33: What is JMPR?

Ans: The "Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues" (JMPR) is an expert ad hoc body administered jointly by FAO and WHO in the purpose of harmonizing the requirement and the risk assessment on the pesticide residues

 

Q 34: What is the role of JMPR?

Ans: The current JMPR comprises the WHO Core Assessment Group and the FAO Panel of Experts on Pesticide Residues in Food and the Environment. The WHO Core Assessment Group is responsible for reviewing pesticide toxicological data and estimating Acceptable Daily Intakes (ADI), acute reference doses (ARfDs) and characterizes other toxicological criteria.

The FAO Panel is responsible for reviewing pesticide data residue and for estimating maximum residue levels, supervised trials median residue values (STMRs) and highest residues (HRs) in food and feed. The maximum residue levels are recommended to the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR) for consideration to be adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) as CXLs.

 

Q 35: What is JEMRA?

Ans: The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meetings on Microbiological Risk Assessment (JEMRA) began in 2000 in response to requests from the Codex Alimentarius Commission and FAO and WHO Member Countries and the increasing need for risk based scientific advice on microbiological food safety issues.

 

Q 36: What is the role of JEMRA?

Ans: JEMRA aims to develop and optimize the utility of Microbiological Risk Assessment (MRA) as a tool to inform actions and decisions aimed at improving food safety and to make it equally available to both developing and developed countries.

 

Q 37: What are the main principles of developing scientific advice at Codex?

Ans: Main principles are:

  • Excellence
  • Independence
  • Transparency
  • Universality

 

Q 38: How is new work proposed at Codex?

Ans: Proposals for new work usually originate at the Committee level, and are transmitted to the Commission by means of a project document. All new work undertaken by a Codex Committee must be approved by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

 

Q 39: How Codex elaborates standards?

Ans: The normal elaboration process follows eight distinct steps, involving two rounds of comments by members. A decision may be taken at step 5 to omit the second round of comments (steps 6 and 7). It can be decided at the beginning to follow the accelerated 5-Step Procedure with only one round of government comments.

 

Q 40: What is the eight step standard elaboration procedure at Codex?

Ans: This is as explained below:

Step 1: The project proposal is reviewed by the Executive Committee and compared against the criteria and priorities established by the Commission.

Steps 2, 3 and 4:  A draft text is prepared (Step 2) and circulated to member countries and all interested parties for comment (Step 3). The draft and the comments are reviewed at Committee level (Step 4) and, if necessary, a new draft is prepared.

Step 5: The Commission reviews the progress made and agrees that the draft should go to finalization. After this stage, the draft is also endorsed by the relevant General Subject Committees so that it is consistent with Codex general standards

Step 6 & 7: The approved draft is sent again to governments and interested parties for comment and finalized by the relevant Committee. The draft is submitted to the Commission for adoption.

Step 8: Following a final round of comments, the Commission adopts the draft as a formal Codex text. The standard, guideline or other text is then published by the Codex Secretariat.

 

Q 41: What is the five step standard elaboration procedure at Codex?

Ans:  Step 1: The project proposal is reviewed by the Executive Committee and compared against the criteria and priorities established by the Commission.

Steps 2, 3 and 4:  A draft text is prepared (Step 2) and circulated to member countries and all interested parties for comment (Step 3). The draft and the comments are reviewed at Committee level (Step 4) and, if necessary, a new draft is prepared.

Step 5: The proposed draft standard is submitted through the Secretariat to the Executive Committee for critical review and to the Commission, together with any written proposals received from Members and interested international organizations for amendments, with a view to its adoption as a Codex standard.

 

Q 42: Is there any process of fast tracking elaboration of Codex standard?

Ans: Yes. This can be done by accelerated 5-Step Procedure with only one round of government comments. However, while taking this decision, all appropriate matters shall be taken into consideration, including the likelihood of new scientific information becoming available in the immediate future.

 

Q 43: Is there a standard format for Codex standards?

Ans: Yes. The established format for commodity standards, set out in the Procedural Manual, has the following components:

  • Name of the standard
  • Scope
  • Description
  • Essential composition and Quality factors
  • Food additives
  • Contaminants
  • Hygiene
  • Weights and measures
  •  Labeling
  •  Methods of analysis and sampling

 

Q 44: What are the advantages in having a common format for standards development?

Ans: There are several advantages in having a common format for standards development.

  • It guides subsidiary bodies of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in presenting their commodity standards in a uniform manner.
  • It facilitates a structured approach to standards development, which aids in ensuring that all elements essential to protect the consumer are identified and described.
  • It helps ensure consistency of provisions among standards addressing similar products.
  • It can also be used by governments as a model in developing national standards.

 

Q 45: What are the main categories of Codex documentation?

Ans: Codex documentation is divided into eight main categories:

  • Codex Procedural Manual
  •  ALINORMs
  •  Committee working papers (CXs)
  •  Circular Letters (CLs)
  •  Conference Room Documents (CRDs)
  •  Information documents (INF)
  •  Adopted texts

 

Q 46: Which World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements are of significance to Codex?

Ans: The two WTOagreements of most significance for international food trade are:

  • the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Measures (SPS), which concerns measures applied to protect human, animal and plant health; and
  • theAgreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), which refers to technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures and applies to all commodities,not just food.

 

Q 47: What is the relationship between Codex & SPS Agreement?

Ans: For food safety, the SPS Agreement makes specific reference to the standards, guidelines and recommendations established by the CAC.

 

Q 48: Where can I find Codex Alimentarius texts?

Ans: All Codex standards, guidelines and codes of practice are published on the Codex Alimentarius website at www.codexalimentarius.net. Their downloading is free-of-charge. Publications in print and on CD ROM are available on a cost recovery basis.

 

FAQs ON NCCP INDIA

Q 49: What is NCCP India?

Ans. NCCP India is the National Codex Contact Point of India.NCCP has been constituted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India for keeping liaison with the Codex Alimentarius and to coordinate Codex activities in India. NCCP for India coordinates and promotes Codex activities in India in association with the National Codex Committee and facilitates India's input to the work of Codex through an established consultation process.

 

Q 50: Where is NCCP India located?

Ans. NCCP India is located at Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, FDA Bhawan, New Delhi, India.

 

Q 51: Whatare the objective of NCCP India?

Ans. The objectives of NCCP India are as follows:

  • To lay down the guidelines for preparation of national response or national viewpoint to Codex matters and participation in Codex Meetings.
  • To establish the procedure for formulation of national viewpoint/response
  • To make the stakeholders understand Codex working procedures so that they are capable and competent to contribute collectively in a competent manner to the work of Codex at the national level.
  • To propose new work on standards or code of practice or guidelines at the Committee Meetings.
  • To coordinate and promote Codex activities in India in association with the National Codex Committee

 

Q 52: What is National Codex Committee and its functions?

Ans. The National Codex Committee has been constituted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, chaired by the Chairperson, FSSAI for keeping liaison with the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Core Functions of NCC-INDIA are as follows:

  • To advise government on the implications of various food standardization, food quality and safety issues which have arisen and related to the work undertaken by the CAC so that national economic interest is taken into account, or considered, when international standards are discussed;
  • To provide important inputs to the government so as to assist in ensuring quality and safety of food to the consumers, while at the same time maximizing the opportunities for development of industry and expansion of international trade;
  • To appoint Shadow Committees on subject matters related to the corresponding Codex Committees to assist in the study or consideration of technical matters; and
  • To meet as and when necessary to formulate national position.

 

Q 53: What is a Shadow Committee?

Ans. For every Codex Committee, a parallel Shadow Committee has been constituted to work on subject matters corresponding to the Codex Committees to assist the NCC in the study or consideration of technical matters. Officers in the rank of Joint Secretary or above in the concerned Department/Ministry / Food Authority who handle the subject at the policy level and also serve as the members of the NCC may be nominated as the Chairpersons of these Shadow Committees. Specialized experts in the relevant field may be nominated as members of these Shadow Committees.

 

Q 54: What is the constitution of a Shadow Committee?

Ans: Composition of individual Codex Shadow Committee varies and depends upon the expertise in the relevant field.Each Shadow Committee is constituted by various stakeholders as follows:

  • Representatives from different ministries viz, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Food Processing and Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairy Fisheries,concerned with food safety, food production and trade in food
  • Representatives from Scientific organizations such as public universities and research institutions
  • Representatives from Industry Associations,
  • Experts/Scientists from concerned areas.

 

Q 55: What is the function of a Shadow Committee?

Ans. The functions of Shadow Committee are:

  • To advise the NCCP / NCC on the implications of various food standardization, food quality and safety issues which have arisen and related to the work undertaken by the relevant Subsidiary Body/Task Force so that national economic interest is taken into account or considered when international standards are deliberated by the relevant committee; and
  • To follow the Codex agenda of the relevant Subsidiary Body and provide inputs to the government so as to assist in ensuring quality and safety of food to the consumers while at the same time safeguard national interests and maximize the opportunities for development of industry and expansion of international trade.
  • To advise on the composition of the Indian Delegation;
  • To coordinate with the other Shadow committees and concerned Departments for seeking comments and finalize the India’s view point on different agenda items under consideration of the respective Codex Committees;

 

Q 56: Which are the various Shadow Committees?

Ans. Currently, there are 16 Shadow Committees.

1. The Committees under the charge of  FSSAI are:

  • Codex Alimentarius Commission
  • Regional Coordinating Committee (including Coordinating Committee for Asia)
  • General Principles
  • Food labelling
  • Methods of Analysis and Sampling
  • Food Hygiene
  • Food Additives
  • Contaminants in Foods
  • Fats and Oils
  • Processed Fruits and Vegetables
  • Sugars

2. The Committees under the charge of other Ministries are:

  • Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems – Ministry of Commerce
  • Pesticide Residues – Ministry of Agriculture (Department of Plant Protection)
  • Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods – Ministry of Agriculture (LH)
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – Ministry of Agriculture
  • Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses – Ministry of Women and Child Development
     

Q 57: How is the national position formulated?

Ans. For the development of a national position five common basic steps may be followed:

  • Circulate working documents
  • Solicit input from stakeholders
  • Draft a position
  • Obtain national endorsement of the position
  • Submit the position as written comments, where appropriate.

 

Q 58: When are the Shadow Committee Meetings conducted?

Ans. The meetings are conducted usually 3 months prior to the respective main Codex Meetings depending upon the availability of the agenda items under consideration in the

 

Q 59: How do the stakeholders contribute to the Shadow Committee Meetings?

Ans. The stakeholders after going through the various agenda items for a particular meeting can submit their meaningful comments to finalise the national position. The comments shall be specific and may be followed by scientific justification or rationale behind the opinion.

 

Q60: What should be the characteristics of the Indian Delegates nominated to attend the Codex Meeting at the International Level?

Ans. The delegates should have the following characteristics:

  • Expertise in the respective subject matter. 

 

Q 61: When and how to submit the Indian Delegation report?

Ans. The Indian Delegation report has to be submitted by the Indian Delegates who attended the Codex Committee Meetings within 30 days after the meeting. The report should comprise of brief about the various issues and the discussions held in the plenary, physical working groups and side meetings with other regions or countries. It should also include details of where interventions were made by the Indian delegation and what was the decision taken by the respective Codex Committee, especially where the interventions were not agreed to. A brief way forward for the work under the Committee for the next meeting should also be given in the report.

 

Q 62 What is anEWG and how is NCCP India engaged in this?

Ans. EWG is an electronic working group made by the Committee which is established when deciding to undertake work between sessions without meeting physically,in search for worldwide consensus and for greater acceptability of Codex Standards which requires the involvement of all the Members of Codex and the active participation of developing countries.

NCCP collaborates with other Shadow Committee Members regarding the concerned ewg and the experts from the concerned field are nominated to be a part of it.

  • Abilities to carry nationally agreed positions based on the standard written, brief given by the NCCP on the basis of recommendations of the Shadow Committees or as the case may be. They may also be able to negotiate formally as well as informally with the delegates of other countries to seek their support on behalf of the country.
    • Have the ability to respond to unannounced/unforeseen issues that may arise during Codex meetings, thereby protecting the Government of India’s interest.
    • In exceptional circumstances where no government representative may be spared for the meeting of the Codex Committee, non-government officials may be participating in the session/meeting and Indian Embassy/High Commission in the country hosting the session/meeting may be requested to depute an officer to attend the session/meeting to be the member of the Indian delegation.