International food standards on the menu for 25th anniversary meeting

1 June 2021

Australia is chairing the 25th anniversary meeting of the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems (CCFICS), which started yesterday.

First Assistant Secretary of the Exports and Veterinary Services Division at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Nicola Hinder, said the committee develops principles and guidelines for food import and export inspection and certification systems.

“This meeting is important for Australia, in particular our agricultural sector, to help shape the science-based international standards underpinning food import and export,” Ms Hinder said.

“It’s about harmonising methods and procedures to protect the health of consumers, ensure fair trading practices and facilitate international food trade.

“Australia is actively involved in initiatives that promote the development of international standards for trade in food, animals, animal products, plant and plant material.

“During the plenary, Australia will put forward a proposal for new work developing guidance on alternative verification systems such as remote auditing.

“The Committee will also consider paperless trade which aligns with the 2020-21 congestion busting budget measures, particularly around delivering a more competitive export industry through flexible assurance methods such as the better use of technology.

“Efficient and transparent inspection and certification systems ensure that our food safety systems continue to protect consumers and deliver fair trade in food.”

“This is the only Codex committee chaired and hosted by Australia, and the first time it has been held as a virtual meeting.

Ms Fran Freeman, former First Assistant Secretary of the Exports and Veterinary Services Division is the current CCFICS Chair.

Key items on the agenda include developing guidance on the paperless use of electronic certificates, equivalence across national food control systems, tackling food fraud and consolidated guidelines related to equivalence. Ms Freeman is hoping to progress work on each of the key items for discussion.

“Each of the items are at different stages, however we are looking to make progress on each topic on the agenda,” Ms Freeman said.

FAST FACTS:

  • After being postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19, CCFICS is meeting virtually from 31 May to 8 June 2021. This will be the first session of CCFICS held virtually.
  • The 25th session of CCFICS is being hosted by Australia with over 600 delegates registered from over 60 countries
  • The committee will consider commencing work on food fraud and guidance on alternative verification systems for food regulatory frameworks.
  • CCFICS is currently working on guidance on paperless trade, which is part of Australia’s regulatory reform agenda under the congestion busting for agricultural exporters initiative.
  • The third World Food Safety Day celebrated on 7 June 2021, falls within the CCFICS meeting week.
  • Established by the World Health Organisation, World Food Safety Day draws attention to global food safety awareness, which is also a critical facet in the work undertaken by CCFICS.