Stakeholders in the international processed food industry will converge in Jamaica next month for the 26th session of the Codex Committee on Processed Fruits and Vegetables (CCPFV).
The meeting, scheduled for the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel, Montego Bay, from October 15-19, is being co-hosted by the United States of America (USA). This is the first time that a small developing country like Jamaica has successfully negotiated with the US to engage in such a partnership.
"The opportunity to co-host this meeting with the USA will facilitate increased participation by local officials and other interest groups in the food standards development process," said Facilitator of the National Codex Committee (NCC), Kadian Atkinson.
The CCPFV is a sub-committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), which was created in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts, such as codes of practice, under a joint FAO/ (World Health Organization (WHO) Food Standards Programme.
Miss Atkinson told JIS News that Codex standards are recognised by the World Trade Organization (WTO) "as the international reference point for food-related matters".
She said that the meeting will also sensitise stakeholders, to include those at the political level, on the importance of the CAC and Jamaica's participation in the body. Currently, the CAC comprises 184 member countries, one member organisation – the European Union, and 208 observers. Jamaica's contact point for the CAC is the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ).
The NCC was established in 2004 to act as a consultative body to the Government of Jamaica on Codex-related issues and to facilitate national responses to Codex draft standards and proposals that may affect the country.
"The effectiveness of the NCC is heavily dependent on the participation of all the stakeholders of the food industry in Jamaica," Miss Atkinson said.
In 2010, the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality endorsed Jamaica's initiative to co-ordinate Codex matters on behalf of Caribbean member states.
The NCC, which includes representatives from the public and private sectors, consumer groups, academia and other relevant independent persons, operates under the auspices of the Ministries of Health; Agriculture and Fisheries; and Industry, Investment and Commerce.
The chairmanship of the committee is alternated among these ministries every two years, with the Ministry of Industry, now at the chair.
Among matters to be discussed at the CCPFV meeting is the proposed draft Codex Standards for certain canned fruits and certain quick frozen vegetables. Also to be examined are: sampling plans, including metrological provisions for controlling minimum drained weight of canned fruits and vegetables; and food additive provisions for processed fruits and vegetables.