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Codex and Science

The foundation of Codex standards is sound scientific evidence. From the very beginning, the Codex Alimentarius has been a science-based activity. Experts and specialists in a wide range of disciplines have contributed to every aspect of the Codex Alimentarius to ensure that its standards withstand the most rigorous scientific scrutiny.

Two longstanding expert groups – the Joint FAO/WHO Meetings on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) and the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) – have for many years produced internationally acclaimed data widely used by governments, industry and research centres worldwide. The safety assessments and evaluations they perform are based on the best scientific information available, compiling inputs from many authoritative sources, and producing publications that are considered international works of reference.

It is fair to say that the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, together with that of FAO and WHO in their supportive roles, has provided a focal point for food-related scientific research and investigation, and the Commission itself has become an important international medium for the exchange of scientific information about food.

Expert bodies

JECFA - Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives

Additives - JECFA

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) is an international expert scientific committee administered jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). JECFA serves as an independent scientific committee which performs risk assessments and provides advice to FAO, WHO and the member countries of both organizations. The requests for scientific advice are for the main part channelled through the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in their work to develop international food standards and guidelines under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.

JMPR - Joint FAO/WHO Meetings on Pesticide Residues

Pesticide Residues - JMPR

The Joint FAO/WHO Meetings on Pesticide Residues provide independent scientific expert advice to the Commission and its specialist Committee on Pesticide Residues. FAO and WHO maintain separate websites highlighting the work of the JMPR from the points of view of the two parent Organizations.

The Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR)

JEMRA - Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meeting on Microbiological Risk Assessment

Microbiological Risk Assessment - JEMRA

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meeting on Microbiological Risk Assessment provide independent scientific expert advice to the Commission and its specialist Committees. FAO and WHO maintain separate websites highlighting the work of the JEMRA from the points of view of the two parent Organizations.

JEMNU - Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meetings on Nutrition

Nutrition - JEMNU

Following the successful model of other long-standing joint FAO/WHO scientific advice committees, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meetings on Nutrition (JEMNU) was established in 2010.

JEMNU strengthens the role of FAO and WHO in providing scientific advice on nutrition to Member States and bodies such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission and in particular the Codex Committee for Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU).

JEMNU convenes in response to a specific request from CCNFSDU or another Codex body. The joint FAO/WHO JEMNU secretariat identifies and invites the relevant global experts to a JEMNU meeting where the necessary evidence is reviewed and evaluated and objective assessment of the quality of the evidence will be provided to the risk managers at Codex Alimentarius to set suitably health-protective and trade-inclusive global nutrition standards.

Key info

Four expert bodies can provide scientific advice to Codex: JECFA, JMPR, JEMRA, JEMNU

Independent experts are selected to serve on the expert bodies for up to 5 years and in a personal capacity

Selection procedures ensure excellence, indpendence and transparency

Risk analysis is used in Codex to estimate the risk to human health and safety of a hazard or condition of a food, to identify and implement appropraie measures to control the risks and to communicate to all involved about the risks and measures applied.

Science in Codex

This video highlights the importance of science in Codex.

Having standards that are science based makes them globally acceptable.

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