Codex issues new standards on bacteria and chemicals for food manufacturers

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Codex alimentarius, Food

New guidelines and codes of practice on acrylamides, follow-on baby formula and listeria testing in ready–to-eat foods were just some of the 30 standards adopted by Codex this week.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) said the new principles would make a positive impact on the lives of people across the globe and that it working faster than ever to address a raft of “the most pressing food safety challenges”.

Reduction of Acrylamide in foods

The Code of Practice for reducing the formation of acrylamide in foods will provide manufacturers, as well as national and local authorities, with guidance to prevent and reduce formation of the possible human carcinogen in potato products during all phases of the production process, said a joint Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) statement.

The measures include strategies for raw materials, the addition of other ingredients and food processing and heating. The chemical was first identified in food in 2002, and is produced during frying, roasting and baking of carbohydrate-rich foods.

Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods

New parameters for microbiological testing and environmental monitoring of the deadly bacteria means no Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods will be permitted. A maximum level was set for certain foods where the bacteria cannot grow.

The FAO/WHO said: “The parameters will help producers control and prevent contamination of Ready-to-Eat Foods with this bacterium that can result in listeriosis, a potentially fatal disease.”

Reduction of contamination with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Codex adopted its first guidelines for reducing the intake of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) through final food preparation. Parts of PAH, which are possible human carcinogens formed, form during the combustion of fuel both in the smoking and in the direct drying processes involved in the preparation of foods, said the Codex members.

Powdered Follow-up Formulae

The Commission adopted criteria for salmonella and other bacteria in powdered follow-up formulae for children six months of age or older, as well as for what it described as “for special medical purposes for young children”.

Of special concern was the bacterium E.sakazakii. In 2008, Codex adopted specific criteria for powdered formula for infants up to six months and has now decided to extend this to follow-on formulae in countries with particular risk for E. Sakazakii from consumption of follow-up formulae. The Commission said this includes regions with substantial populations of immunocompromised babies. The need has arisen as a follow-on formula is often fed to children less than six months.

Prevention of Ochratoxin A contamination in coffee

The guidance would enable coffee producing countries to develop and implement their own national programmes for the prevention and reduction of Ochratoxin A (OTA) contamination - a fungal toxin also and possible human carcinogen.

Ezzeddine Boutrif, FAO Director, Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division, said Codex membership now represented 99 per cent of the world's population.

"Applying Codex standards and guidelines are an important part of ensuring that consumers in every part of the world can be protected from unsafe food,"​ he said.

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