to leverage the use of new and emerging
technologies to create a more digital,
traceable, and safer system. However,
with respect to international standards
for food safety, Codex should take a
BVDM: It is important to agree as
much as possible on common standards. To this end, countries should pay
more attention to the Codex Alimentarius. This means that in drafting food
legal requirements, the Codex should
always be taken into account and discarded only for important reasons.
AAB: A single set of standards,
based on scientific facts, could be used
to bring clarity to the ways to ensure
food safety and security, as well as to
promote innovation. A joint effort is
needed to achieve such a goal, so an
international forum of national authorities, NGOs, the academic and scientific
community, the food industry, and
consumer representatives should co-operate and be engaged in providing
equivalence of standards, taking into
consideration cultural particularities,
specific food allergies, and intolerances.
More than anybody else, governments
should be open to listening to the voice
of the scientists and release and implement legislation accordingly.
LL: I think that the global food
industry should achieve “international
co-governance of food safety” from the
perspective of strategic development. A
single set of standards is not applicable
at this stage. Food safety needs continuous improvement, and innovation and
investment need to be strengthened.
Also, I think the country or the
regional organization with the largest volume of international trade and
relatively perfect national governance
RA: It is important to differentiate between food safety and food security; the
former refers to ensuring that consumers eat and have access to food that will not
make them sick, while the latter refers to various approaches to ensure that people
have access to food. Some concepts of food security also prioritize national production to supply national markets and reduce demand for imported products.
Regardless, the global community must agree on what constitutes “safe food,” and
the Codex Alimentarius is the international reference for food safety. Importantly,
the global definition of safe food must be adopted and accepted for all production and value chains, including those of
small-scale, rural producers who primarily
supply informal markets, to ensure that all
consumers both expect and have access to
safe food, regardless of who produces it or
where it is produced.
Given political realities and market
demands, it may not be possible to agree
on a single set of food safety standards;
indeed, many countries struggle to agree
on common approaches among agencies within their borders. However, over the
past few years, countries and the private sector have taken important steps to promote harmonization of food safety practices. GFSI benchmarking requirements
are aligned with Codex Alimentarius standards, and GFSI works with countries to
promote alignment with national regulations as well. The global food community
is driving this process at the local level by ensuring that producers implement food
safety programs, such as those benchmarked by GFSI, even when their national
competent authorities are not capable of certifying the sanitary status of specific
value chains. The global food community is also driving this change by insisting
that countries update their food safety policies or simply adopt Codex standards as a
means to facilitate safe trade, increase transparency, and improve the overall predictability of market access.
CB: It is not clear that standards alone, or a single set of standards would be the
determining driver for development. Making giant strides in food security, innovation, and new technologies will involve standards but will also involve many other
strategic actions such as making targeted investments in food safety, coordinated
approaches to capacity building, the strengthening of domestic food safety infrastructure, and encouraging innovation in technology. There are no simple answers to
development and innovation questions, and different strategies and approaches will
For example, it would be very challenging to develop a single comprehensive set
of standards addressing all areas of food safety due to the complexity of consumption patterns. But can we continue to move forward in developing strong, useful
standards that are broadly applied? Absolutely.
Codex is currently working on standards that could support food security and
innovation. Standards can be a key factor in developing the future state of strong
global food systems, which ensure the safety of foods being traded around the
world. Private standards have played a unique role (e.g., the GFSI benchmarked certification processes), but they should be based on Codex.
This is a very exciting time for advancing an agenda to increase the availability of
safe, nutritious foods, innovation, and new technologies. Who should take the lead?
There will be leaders from many sectors that will do their part in advancing strong
global food safety systems, including the private sector, development institutions,
donor organizations, global banking institutions, consumers and consumer organizations, and academia. The UN Sustainable Development Goals embrace these
Romania: “Inconsistencies of food
regulations are not always justified and often
lead to the needless destruction of food,
trade barriers, and hindrance of innovation.”