Food standards (Codex Alimentarius)

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, established in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WHO, develops harmonized international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade. It also promotes coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

Since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS), foods in international trade must adhere to Codex standards.

WHO/Europe supports the work of the FAO/WHO Codex Regional Coordinating Committee for Europe, a subsidiary Codex body through which countries in the European Region coordinate food standards activities, including the development of regional standards.

Strengthening participation in Codex activities across the European Region

WHO/Europe and the FAO Regional Office for Europe and central Asia work jointly to improve knowledge among European countries about the work of Codex, and thus enhance their active participation.

Subregional training courses in 2011-2013 addressed about 15 countries in the Balkans, southeastern Europe, Caucasus and central Asia, with financial support from the FAO/WHO Project and Fund for Enhanced Participation in Codex (Codex Trust Fund). This Fund was established to help developing countries and those with economies in transition to enhance their level of effective participation in Codex work.