Codex Alimentarius Commission,
June 28 to July 7, 2003, Rome
At the recent standard setting meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (June 28 to July 7, 2003), Canada sided with the US position to exclude food advertisements from criteria set out to ensure that nutrition and health claims are not misleading to the public.
In a move that surprised a number of delegates, Canadian representative Anne McKenzie used her position as chair of the Codex Committee for Food Labelling (CCFL) to bias the proceedings in favour of the US and the food products industries. The CCFL's recommendation to the Codex Alimentarius Commission had been that the criteria for nutrition and health claims be applicable to food advertisements, food labels as well as any informational brochures accompanying food products.
The US had failed to gain adequate support for its position to have the word "advertising" struck from the guidelines at the committee level. The criteria for nutrition and health claims had been put forward by the CCFL after completing all 8 steps for final adoption at the Codex Commission meeting. Following Canada’s surprising move, numerous countries, including Brazil, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Finland Spain, Austria and Pakistan, intervened to retain the phrase. But the US and Canadian objections prevailed and the criteria have now been sent back to the CCFL for new discussions on whether they should also apply to food advertisements - including infant formulas and foods for infants and young children.
While this is a major setback for truth in advertising, INFACT/ IBFAN is pleased that a critical phrase: "no nutrition and health claims for foods for infants and young children" was not struck from the document - despite the best efforts of the food products and infant foods industries. INFACT Canada's director, Elisabeth Sterken, attended the meeting as the Observer delegate for the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). In this capacity, she was able to intervene on behalf of the health interests of all infants and young children and ensure that compliance to the International Code was upheld in the standards set for infant formulas and foods for infants and young children.
Spring 2003 Newsletters Contents