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Codex standards and related texts are voluntary in nature

The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The main purposes of this Programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organisations.

Membership is open to all Member Nations and Associate Members of FAO/WHO, and currently comprises of over 160 countries. International non-governmental organisations, such as consumer, academic or industry bodies, may attend Codex meetings as observers. The FSAI is one of the organisations that represent Ireland at Codex.

The detailed work of Codex Alimentarius Commission on drafting standards, codes of practice and other guidance is handled by about thirty Committees which fall into three general categories: 

  • Commodity committees (covering a particular commodity; e.g. Milk and Milk Products)
  • Horizontal committees (dealing with issues applicable across a range of commodities e.g. labelling, food additives and contaminants)
  • Regional committees (one for each of the seven Codex regions e.g. Europe).

Codex standards are developed through a formal procedure, consisting of eight stages which rely on consensus for their agreement. If consensus cannot be achieved it is possible for a vote to be called, but this is avoided if possible (Member countries can vote; observer organisations have no vote). Agreed standards are voluntary, implementation by member countries is not necessarily automatic.

Ireland’s participation in Codex is coordinated through the Research & Codex Division, located in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Irish Codex Activities

The Codex contact point for Ireland is:

Mr RuairĂ­ Colbert,
Research, Food Codex Coordination Division
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
7 Kildare Street
Dublin 2
Tel: +353 1 607 2367

For information about activities contact:

Secretariat of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 (06) 570 51
Telefax: +39 (06 )5705 4593
Telex: 610181 FAOI