A workshop in Kazakhstan has helped give national food safety authorities knowledge and skills to operate in the Codex standard-setting environment.

The event in Almaty was organized by the Secretariat of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Kazakhstan is the regional coordinator of the Codex Alimentarius Commission for Europe until 2019.

For 16 countries present – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan – it is essential for trade purposes to know how to access Codex documents, standards and databases, meet requirements and make use of Codex texts in national food standards.

Participants familiarized themselves with the Codex system, learned about its web tools and how to run an effective national Codex program.

FAO and WHO officials spoke about the importance of improving capacities in national Codex systems to operate successfully in the international standard setting environment.

Dina Pfeiffer, WHO medical officer in the Regional Office for Europe, said raising awareness for global food safety has become an integral part of the food security agenda.

Mary Kenny, FAO regional food safety and quality officer for the region, said ensuring knowledge of Codex tools is essential to participate fully in its work.

The workshop was also a forum to highlight national food safety and quality issues and give input on the Codex Strategic Plan for 2020-2025. This plan is to be adopted during the Codex Alimentarius Commission in July 2019. It is open for comments until Nov. 30, 2018. A start was also made on areas for discussion at the next session of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Europe in Oct. 2019.

Meanwhile, the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) meeting, chaired by the United States and co-hosted by Panama, was held this week. Emilio Esteban, chair of committee, welcomed the 223 participants from 58 countries.

The agenda included revising the General Principles of Food Hygiene Codex standard, allergen management, handling microbiological foodborne outbreaks and future work on Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). The next session is planned for Nov. 4 to 8, 2019 in the United States.

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