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Minister Smith opens Seminar on the Codex Alimentarius in Dublin Castle

Speaking today at the official opening of a seminar on the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Mr. Brendan Smith T.D., Minister for Food at the Department of Agriculture and Food, paid tribute to the role played by this inter-governmental food standard setting body in ensuring consumer health protection and fair practices in the food trade.

The seminar, which was hosted by the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, aimed to provide an insight into the purpose and functioning of the Codex, its relationship with WTO Agreements, and its influence on food safety and trade. It was attended by key food industry and official personnel who were addressed by high level officials from the Codex secretariat, the World Trade Organisation and the European Commission as well as an experienced food industry consultant and the Irish Codex Contact Point.

Acknowledging the greater importance Codex has assumed since gaining formal recognition by the World Trade Organisation, he congratulated Codex for its work in elaborating standards and limits, codes of practice as well as basic principles, rules and definitions in areas such as risk analysis, traceability, hygiene, labelling and the accuracy of claims attributed to the health and nutrition properties of food.

Referring to the complexity of some emerging safety concerns in today's highly globalised food industry, Minister Smith said "...many of these issues require a multi-faceted, inter-governmental approach which only Codex can provide. Of course, all the work undertaken by Codex is scientifically underpinned by the FAO/WHO-sponsored Expert Bodies and Consultations - an essential pre-requisite for the elaboration of reliable and enduring standards".

Minister Smith stressed the continuing importance of the agri-food sector to the Irish economy and the Government's commitment to it particularly as regards research and development. Referring to the changes in food consumption patterns and consumer behaviour, he drew attention to the effectiveness of provisions in place in Ireland to ensure the safety of food at all stages of the chain. Referring to Ireland's active participation in Codex, he also noted his satisfaction that Ireland was able to contribute both financial and human resources to helping improve the food safety systems of some of the least developed countries in the world and, indeed, the involvement of their officials in the work of Codex.

21 March, 2007

Date Released: 21 March 2007