The five-day meeting forms part of an ongoing programme to create international food safety standards under the Codex Alimentarius, a body set up by the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the World Health Organisation.
The standards could eventually affect the way processors operate worldwide as they become incorporated into national laws. The meeting relates to the Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA), which sets forth the conditions and amounts under which food additives may be used in different food products and processes.
It also relates to a push to lower the amount of contaminants in foods.
Only the food additives listed are permitted for use in foods. Only food additives that have been evaluated by a joint FAO and WHO expert committee and found acceptable for use in foods are included in this standard.
Since 1963, Codex has adopted over 200 commodity standards. Over this time considerable diversity has arisen in the content and format of the food additive sections among these standards, according to documents released ahead of the meeting.
Several committees have developed or are developing standards that reference the GSFA in their food additive sections, for example fermented milks, and canned citrus fruits. These sometimes different approaches taken by the committees needs to be unified under the GSFA, the documents state.
"This diversity in approaches, sometimes by the same committee, contributes to diversity among the food additive sections of Codex commodity standards," the documents stated.
In considering revisions to the food additive section of the Codex commodity standards, the committee proposes to replace the list of food additive provisions in each commodity standard with text that refers to the appropriate food category in the GSFA.
The Codex commodity committees will be asked to prepare a section on food additives in each draft standard. This section would contain a list identifying the functional classes of food additives which are technologically necessary for the specified commodity.
Specific additives and maximum levels of use would only be indicated in cases where exceptional restrictions or permissions are necessary.
Other discussions will centre on the prevention and reduction of aflatoxin contamination in a wide assortment of nuts, the draft maximum levels for lead in fish, cadmium, dioxin, chloropropanols, acrylamide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
The background documents for the meeting are available here.