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Codex Alimentarius - What you need to know

Posted by Bertrand Duteil on 18/05/2017


From the latin “Food codex”, the Codex Alimentarius is a set of rules and standards regulating the food industry worldwide. The Codex Alimentarius Commission at the origin of this codex was founded in 1963 by the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Health Organization. The commission is currently organized by 187 countries and the European Union.

We will today learn more about the Codex Alimentarius and how it influences your business.

Background: Codex Alimentarius Austriacus

The current Codex Alimentarius is named after the Austrian Codex Alimentarius Austriacus established in 1891. This codex was a set of standards in the food industry but was not legally enforceable. The Austrian Hans Frenzel worked on a european Codex Alimentarius between 1954 and 1958 until the creation of the Council of the Codex Alimentarius Europaeus. Today, the Codex Alimentarius Austriacus has been adapted to the Austrian and European laws and is still used as a reference for its strict food regulation.

Codex Alimentarius: What you need to know

Since its first edition in 1963, the Codex Alimentarius evolved as one of the main international references for food safety. The Codex has been recognized by the World Trade Organization in 1994 for its role Food safety and its efforts for international standardization (so long trade is not hindered in case of insufficient scientific evidences).

Available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian, the Codex sets rules in different areas such as:

  • Foodborne antimicrobial resistance
  • Prevention and Reduction of food and feed contamination
  • Foods derived from modern biotechnology
  • Food Hygiene
  • Food Labelling
  • Food import and export inspection & certification systems
  • Organically produced foods
  • Working principles on risk analysis for food safety for applications for governments
  • Waters
  • Code of practice for fish and fishery products

Specific standards are also part of the codex, regulating specific products such as:

  • Animal food production
  • Cereals, pulses, legumes and vegetable proteins
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Milk and milk products
  • Miscellaneous food products

Another important part of the Codex is the setting of maximum residue levels of pesticides and veterinary drugs in food products.

Codex Alimentarius and other certificates

Setting the bases for Risk analysis and Risk management in the food industry or food hygiene standards such as the HACCP standard, the Codex Alimentarius is used as an international reference in the food industry. When international questions are raised such as the use of additives or GMOs, the Codex Alimentarius Commission meets to share a decision on that issue.

More information


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Tags: document types, Certifications