The Codex Alimentarius, or the food code, has become the
seminal global reference point for consumers, food producers and processors,
national food control agencies and the international food trade.
Its influence extends to every continent, and its
contribution to the protection of public health and fair practices in the food
trade is immeasurable.
The Codex Alimentarius has relevance to the international
food trade. With respect to the ever-increasing global market, in particular,
the advantages of having universally uniform food standards for the protection
of consumers are self-evident. It is not surprising, therefore, that the
Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and
the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) both encourage the
international harmonization of food standards
The Codex achievement:
a single international reference point
greater global and national awareness
increased consumer protection
broad community involvement
The different sets of standards arising from the spontaneous
and independent development of food laws and standards by different countries
inevitably gave rise to trade barriers that were of increasing concern to food
traders in the early twentieth century.
Trade associations that were formed as a reaction to such
barriers pressured governments to harmonize their various food standards so as
to facilitate trade in safe foods of a defined quality.
In the 1940s, rapid progress was made in food science and
technology. With the advent of more sensitive analytical tools, knowledge about
the nature of food, its quality and associated health hazards also grew
quickly. There was intense interest in food microbiology, food chemistry and
associated disciplines, and new discoveries were considered newsworthy.
Despite the questionable quality of some of the information
disseminated, however, the outcome was an increase in the public's food consciousness and,
consequently, knowledge about food safety gradually grew.