Codex Alimentarius 2015: What Was Agreed?

Posted By: Selerant RSA

Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC)
delegates met in Geneva for the 38th annual assembly first week of July.

A significant number of standards were updated. Below is an outline of the key changes adopted.

In brief

Important agreements were reached on:

  • food contaminants (lead and deoxynivalenol)
  • pesticides residues
  • recommendations to prevent residues of certain antibiotics (dimetridazole, ipronidazole, metronidazole and ronidazole)
  • nutritional recommendations


On lead, an environmental contaminant whose toxicity estimation was previously reviewed by JEFCA, Commission agreed on reduction of recommended maximum levels for some food categories. For example, new maximum level of 0.1 mg/kg for most canned fruit and vegetables, while retaining previous limits where burden would be unjustified in relation to the exposure, new maximum level of 0.03 mg/ kg for fruit juices and nectars, and new maximum level of 0.05 mg/ kg for juices made from berries and other small fruits.

For deoxynivalenol, a mould toxin impacting grains like wheat, barley and maize, the Commission reached consensus on maximum levels of 0.2 mg/kg of cereal-based foods for infants and young children, 1 mg/kg of flour, meal, semolina or flakes derived from wheat, maize or barley, and 2 mg/ kg of wheat, maize and barley destined for further processing.


Commission’s agenda also included a number of nutritional agreements, confirming the focus on relation between food and human health.  

An agreement on a new, higher reference value was agreed for potassium. 

Potassium plays a key role in reducing blood pressure and preventing related non-communicable diseases. It also serves as a substitute for sodium, whose overuse can lead to negative health effects. The latest scientific research also pointed out its beneficial role in the mechanisms for regulation of bone-mineral density. The new recommended intake level is 3,500 mg of potassium per day for adults.

Other standards

Among new standards, Commission agreed on converting the existing ginseng Asian regional standard to a general one, ensuring worldwide quality, identity and essential composition of this root when used as or in foods.

Finally the Commission recommended a series of levels of additives in various foods, such as fresh, frozen or smoked fish, coffee, and powdered infant formula, based on JEFCA’s assessments.


The Codex Alimentarius constitues a set of international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice aiming at contributing to safety, quality and fairness of international food trade.  The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is the international body which writes, issues and revises the Codex. Codex standards and guidelines are voluntary, but in many cases they serve as basis for defining national legal standards related to food.

To read more about how Codex works, please click here.