In the field of global food safety, few organisations hold more sway than the Codex Alimentarius Commission. This week on the GFSI Experts Series, we hear from one of the leaders of this influential organisation: Chairperson Guilherme da Costa.
GFSI has long enjoyed a close relationship with Codex; the Benchmarking Requirements are based on Codex standards, and leaders from the Commission are regular features at the GFSI Conference. This year, the opening session of the GFSI Conference included an appearance by Guilherme, representing a redoubled commitment to collaboration between Codex and GFSI in 2019.
After his session, Guilherme sat down with Anne Gerardi, GFSI Manager, to discuss some recent and upcoming projects between the two organisations, including the first World Food Safety Day in June. Mike Robach, Chairman of the GFSI Board of Directors, joined to share his own thoughts on the partnership. Watch their interviews on GFSI Youtube, or read the transcripts below.
Anne: What do you hope to gain by attending the GFSI Conference 2019 in Nice?
Guilherme: First of all, it's a pleasure to be invited to be here. This relationship, this partnership that we have with the Global Food Safety Initiative, it’s paramount in Codex work. As you know, we make standards, and these standards are used by the government and by the private sector. To have good standards, we need to be very close to the private sector. The Global Food Safety Initiative is one of the most important organisations in the world in dealing with food safety. For us, it's essential to be here because I think we can strengthen this partnership. It's fantastic, for example, to see the advancement that we had from Tokyo to Nice. When you composed your Codex Committee within GFSI, this was really stimulating for us, and I think it will strengthen our partnership. As for the results, I could say that as close as we are, we can better achieve the development and implementation of these standards. At the end of the day, these standards will be used, of course, by governments to verify what the private sector is doing. But the private sector needs these standards to establish the controls when they are preparing the food.
Anne: Why is the relationship between GFSI and Codex so important?
Mike: Our relationship with Codex at GFSI is extremely important. Number one, our benchmarking document is based on the principles of Codex. We're working really hard to harmonise the way that food safety management systems are really put together around the world so we can drive for consistency and the production of safe food regardless of where you are in the world, and having a relationship with Codex is absolutely key to that. Our partnership demonstrates the private sector working hand in hand with the public sector to use the same principles, the same elements in our food safety management systems, so that we can drive consistency and get a higher degree of safety around the world.
Anne: What do you see as the key achievements of Codex in 2018?
Guilherme: As you know, Codex has different subsidiary bodies, and they are working very hard in different issues. During the commission, for example, we had many MRLs [Maximum Residue Limits] approved from the Codex Commission on Pesticide Residuals. We also had a lot of MRLs approved from the Codex Commission which deals with veterinary drugs. We also had an advancement of the work of CCFICS. We worked very hard in terms of the accomplishments of the World Food Safety Day in December. We participated in different fora. For example, it was a pleasure for me to represent Codex Alimentarius to be with you in Tokyo at the beginning of the year. So it was a very fruitful year, 2018. We achieved a lot of things. The Commission meeting was very good because we had a lot of discussions. The unilateral negotiation was very robust, and we achieved good results.
Anne: Why is the Global Markets Programme essential to help implement Codex?
Mike: Well, obviously, the Global Markets Programme is a pathway to certification, and if you're certified under a GFSI-recognised certification programme, you are going to be in alignment with the principles of Codex. So the Global Markets Programme is an opportunity for less sophisticated organisations to really build a food safety management system, starting out making 30% of their way the first year, going to 70% in the second year, and then the third year you're ready for certification. You're in compliance with the principles of Codex, and you have a GFSI certification.
Anne: Thank you very much, Guilherme.
Guilherme: You are very welcome. Thank you.
Anne: Thank you very much, Mike.
Mike: Thank you, Anne.
To learn more about Codex and their strategy for improving food safety worldwide, tune in to GFSI News on 28 May to see our upcoming episode with Steve Wearne, Vice-Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and Director of Science at the UK Food Standards Agency. We hope you’ll join Codex and GFSI in celebrating the first World Food Safety Day on 7th June!