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WHO Raises Food Safety Standards

Manila Bulletin, July 10, 2010 | Go to article overview

WHO Raises Food Safety Standards


In a move to protect public health without compromising international trade, the United Nations' food standards body, Codex Alimentarius Commission, has issued new guidelines to improve food safety.Under the new guidelines, the 47-year-old commission, which is jointly run by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO), sets the maximum amount of melamine allowed in powdered infant formula to 1 mg/kg and the amount of the chemical allowed in other foods and animal feed is 2.5 mg/kg.Melamine is a chemical used in the manufacture of plastics used for dishware and kitchenware, and can coatings.In 2008, there was a scare over melamine-tainted milk in the Philippines, following the reported deaths of at least four infants in China due to contaminated milk and milk-based products."Establishment of maximum levels will help governments differentiate between low levels of unavoidable melamine occurrence that do not cause health problems, and deliberate adulteration - thereby protecting public health without unnecessary impediments to international trade" Martijn Weijtens, chairman of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods, said in a statement.The Codex rules on new levels, which are not legally binding, would not prohibit countries from refusing to allow the importation of products with excessive levels of melamine.Some 500 delegates from 130 countries attended the 33rd Session of Codex Alimentarius Commission, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.According to the WHO, the new Codex measures also provide specific guidance for production, harvesting, packing, processing, storage, distribution, marketing, and consumer education to reduce food safety risks associated with vegetable products.It explained that since vegetables are grown under diverse conditions and marketed both locally and globally and move along the supply chain from the farm to the table, they can be contaminated by pathogens such as salmonella, E.

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