Ahead of the Codex additive committee, that meets at The Hague in April, the European community said this week it has backed recommendations for the flavour industry to develop specific guidelines for flavouring agents.
"A working group should be established with a mandate to develop a proposal for definitions of flavourings in general and subcategories thereof. This work should be done before any work on integration of flavouring agents into the Codex can take place," claims a community document released this week.
Backing the 'fourth option' in the Codex proposal, Europe shows support for an initiative whereby the flavour industry develops specific guidelines on flavouring agents. A proposal that stemmed from industry group, the International Organisation of the Flavor Industry (IOFI).
But Europe cautioned in the same document that ongoing work on the general standards on food additives should receive "the highest priority and should be finalised before any other extensive work is taken up by CCFAC (Codex committee on food additives and contaminants)."
About 2600 flavouring substances used in member states, and evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority, have entered a European register.
Offering support to Codex, the community said: "it would be pleased to offer to the committee the evaluations carried out by EFSA, in particular in relation to issues such as estimation of intake and substances with genotoxic potential."
Created in 1963 by UN bodies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation, Codex Alimentarius develops food standards and guidelines for codes of practice in the global food chain.
Key principles embodied in Codex are the consumer protection, ensuring fair practices in the sale of food and to facilitate trade.
The UN-backed group came under attack recently when consumer organisations said Codex Alimentarius was failing hem.
Just 32 out of 211 consumer organisations responded to a survey from Consumers International (CI), from which CI concluded that national Codex consultations are influenced by industry lobbyists more than consumer representatives.
"Our main concern is that the voice of consumer groups is not heard," a spokesperson for the UK-based group told FoodNavigator.com at the time.
But while the consumer groups claim Codex could do much for them, other stakeolders show strong support.
"If there are differences at a national consultation level - money, tradition, infrastucture - is that the fault of Codex?" queried food lawyer Raymond O'Rourke.
Defenders of Codex say it has played, and still plays, a crucial role in providing an administrative back-up on food standards for developing countries, notably for ministries implementing from a zero base a framework for food safety law.