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Codex sets new standards for lead, cadium

By Ahmed ElAmin , 10-Jul-2006

The Codex Alimentarius Commission has set new internationalstandards on maximum allowed levels of contaminants, including lead, cadmium,and aflatoxins.

About 500 food safety experts from about 100 countriesconcluded the Codex meeting in Geneva on Friday last week.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission sets standards aimed athelping international food trade by eliminating many of what the UN calls"unjustified technical barriers" set up by some countries.

The Codex Alimentarius is a joint venture of the UN Food andAgriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

The standards are voluntary. However many countriesincorporate them into national legislation. They also apply to theinternational food trade.

"The new standards adopted this week will thus go along way to protecting human health, as they set out new, maximum limits forlead in fish, cadmium in rice, marine bivalve molluscs and cephalopods, andaflatoxin in Brazil nuts," according to a press release from the body.

Participants considered issues such as the maximum limit forlead in fish and cadmium in rice, marine bivalve molluscs and cephalopods.

Measures to prevent the contamination of Brazil nuts withcancer-causing aflatoxins were put aside. They also discussed methods toprevent and reduce dioxin and dioxin-like PCB contamination in food and feeds.

Countries also agreed to set up a task force to assess foodsafety risks associated with antimicrobial resistance in food of animal origin.

"Some topics on the agenda are likely to cause intensedebate such as the establishment of a task force on antibiotic resistance inbacteria, a potential threat to human health," the UN stated in a press releasebefore the meeting. "The incorrect use of antibiotics in animals can lead todrug resistance in infections in humans who eat their meat."

A committee dealing with the topic is in the process ofdeveloping a risk assessment policy and strategies to reduce food safety risksassociated with antibiotics use.

Codex Alimentarius standards form the basis of food legislationin many countries and are recognised as international benchmarks by one of themultilateral agreements of the UN World Trade Organization (WTO).

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