Codex - International Food Standards

Food is one of Australia’s most important exports. We export about 70 per cent of the food we produce.

International food standards support the trade of safe food. We need to be involved with developing these standards.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) is an intergovernmental body that:

  • develops international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice
  • protects consumer health
  • ensures fair trade practices in food trade
  • encourages international government and non-government organisations to coordinate their food standards.

Codex was established by the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization in 1962.

Codex texts

Codex develops international science-based texts. These set the benchmark for global food trade.

Codex texts:

  • set out a transparent rules-based trading environment
  • reduce some risks related to operating in a complex international trading system.

Adopting Codex texts is voluntary. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures encourages member countries to base their national measures on Codex standards, guidelines and recommendations.

Australia’s involvement in Codex

The Australian Government, through Codex Australia, provides Australia’s input into Codex work. We represent the interests of our consumers, farmers, agribusiness and the food industry.

We engage with Codex to:

  • ensure international standards are based on sound scientific principles
  • contribute to consumer food safety
  • contribute to the success of Australian food manufacturing and exports
  • create a level playing field for our exporters.

Australia participates in:

* There are 10 general subject matter Codex committees. They develop standards and guidelines applicable across the food sector.

Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems (CCFICS)

Australia hosts and chairs CCFICS. It develops principles and guidelines for food inspection and certification systems. CCFICS is currently focusing on:

  • food systems equivalence
  • food fraud
  • assessment and use of voluntary third-party assurance programs
  • paperless trading.

Codex Australia

Codex Australia sits within the department. We coordinate Australia’s involvement in Codex. We have two primary functions:

  • primary liaison point on Codex matters
  • host and secretariat support for the Chair of CCFICS.

Primary liaison point

We liaise with:

  • the Codex Secretariat in Rome
  • other Codex Contact Points (CCPs)
  • host countries
  • Australian delegation leaders
  • Australian stakeholders.

In this role, we:

  • drive and coordinate Australia’s strategic involvement in Codex
  • distribute Codex material to relevant stakeholders for action
  • maintain a list of stakeholders and consultation panels
  • arrange stakeholder panels and meetings
  • register Australian delegates to attend Codex meetings
  • coordinate policy and technical input for Australian delegation briefing material
  • liaise with Australian delegation leaders to give feedback on Codex texts
  • liaise with other host country secretariats in relation to the work of their committees and subsidiary groups
  • liaise with other Codex Contact Points to coordinate engagement, such as electronic working group participation.

Support

We provide secretariat support for the Chair of CCFICS. In this role, we also provide administrative and secretariat support to CCFICS.

How to get involved

We consult and work with government, industry and consumer organisations. We help stakeholders provide input into policy, technical and strategic Codex issues.

Australian delegations attend Codex committee meetings. They present and argue Australian positions. These are led by Australian Government officials. You can nominate people to attend as part of Australian delegations.

To get involved, email codex.contact@awe.gov.au.

Contact us

Email: codex.contact@awe.gov.au

Mail to:
Codex Australia
Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601

Last reviewed: 8 October 2020
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