Advancing Food Safety in Africa: AU-IBAR convenes the 14th Pan African National Codex Contact Point Officers Meeting

Mon, 06-11-2023 15:00:00

From November 1st to 2nd, 2023, AU-IBAR coordinated the Fourteenth Pan African National Codex Contact Point Officers Meeting. This event was in preparation for the forthcoming 46th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), scheduled to take place from November 27 to December 2, 2023, in Rome, Italy.

The primary objective of the 14th National Codex Contact Officers meeting was to engage in discussions concerning food safety, trade practices, and consumer health while ensuring that Africa's perspective is well-represented on the global stage. The participants at this gathering included all National Codex Contact Point Officers and selected experts who contribute to various AU Expert meetings on Codex and AU-IBAR initiatives.

Notable Highlights from the Meeting:
John Oppong-Otoo, who serves as the Coordinator for Economics, Trade & Marketing Unit at AU-IBAR, outlined the meeting's core objectives. He underscored the importance of collaborative efforts in enhancing food safety and highlighted the pivotal role of Codex standards in this context. In his presentation, he noted that:

Codex Standards serve as a global benchmark for best practices in food safety, helping countries adopt these practices to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and ensure consumer well-being. By guaranteeing the safety and quality of food products, Codex standards instill confidence in consumers while aligning with Africa's commitment to ending hunger by 2025, recognizing the pivotal role of food safety in achieving food security. Furthermore, these standards promote fair trade by harmonizing international food standards, ensuring a level playing field. They also support Africa's goal of tripling trade by 2025 and align with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), addressing trade-related health standards, thus contributing to a safer and more prosperous future for the continent.

Hakim Mufumbiro, Chairperson of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Africa (CCAFRICA) also emphasized the importance of the scientific basis of Codex standards and encouraged member states to establish sound Codex structures to enable them contribute to and shape Codex standards.

The two-day meeting featured discussions on the African Positions for CAC46, reports presented by the Codex Chairperson regarding the 84th and 85th Sessions of the Executive Committee, and deliberations on Amendments to the Procedural Manual. Additionally, there was a strong emphasis on Codex Committees dealing with Food Hygiene, Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods, Nutrition, and Food Additives.

In preparation for CAC46, participants identified priority draft Codex standards for adoption, developed common African positions on key Codex standards and food safety issues, and engaged in discussions about strategic measures aimed at enhancing Africa's active participation in the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission holds a pivotal role as an inter-governmental organization dedicated to establishing international standards that safeguard consumer health and ensure fair trade practices. These standards cover a wide range of aspects, including food hygiene, additives, contaminants, labeling, and methods of analysis. They are formulated based on scientific principles, adopted by consensus, and globally recognized, encouraging countries to voluntarily adhere to them.

Challenges and Objectives:
The intricate nature of Codex-related issues necessitates frequent committee meetings to address them, particularly. AU-IBAR acknowledges the importance of effective participation in Codex committee meetings to ensure that draft standards are globally relevant, prioritize consumer health, and promote fair trade practices. As Africa takes proactive steps towards shaping global food safety standards, the continent moves closer to ensuring the safety and well-being of its people, representing a significant stride towards advancing food safety in Africa.