HC’s #FoodDirectorate updates stakeholders on accomplishments and on-going initiatives – #FoodTimes August 2014

Health Canada’s Food Directorate shared with stakeholders an update on its key accomplishments and on-going initiatives for August 2014.

Food Times, previously published on quarterly basis, will be now shared with stakeholders monthly, using a shorter, abbreviated version. This change is meant to enhance transparency and on-going stakeholder engagement by Health Canada’s Food Directorate, as a primary food standard setter in Canada.

Comments and input on this updated approach are welcome and can be sent to food-aliment@hc-sc.gc.ca

A great opportunity to meet food stakeholders at the 2nd World Food Safety Conference


Second World Food Safety Conference Bangkok – Thailand 22-23 May 2014

Discussing Food Safety Standards challenges

Discussing Food Safety Standards challenges

On May 23, 2014, I was privileged to contribute to the Second World Food Safety Conference held in Bangkok Thailand, by making a presentation reviewing the drivers influencing food standard setting internationally and the resulting trends. The presentation made the case for the necessity of enhanced worksharing and collaboration amongst food regulators regionally and internationally, aiming for added efficiency and convergence in food regulatory requirements. The need to align standard development with the principles and outputs of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, as the preeminent international food standard setting body was highlighted. Participating in the meeting provided me with an excellent opportunity to discuss with a number of food stakeholders in Thailand, in Asia and the Asia Pacific region overall current and emerging challenges related to food safety and nutrition.

With Dr. Pisan Pongsapitch and his team and with H.E. Ambssador Philip Calvert, Canadian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand

With Dr. Pisan Pongsapitch and his team and with H.E. Ambassador Philip Calvert, Canadian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand

My visit to Thailand gave me the opportunity to meet and exchange with peer food safety regulators and colleagues from Thailand, particularly Dr. Pisan Pongsapitch, Director of Standard Development, in the Thai Department of Agriculture and his team. My thanks and gratitude to our Thai hosts for their kind and generous hospitality

With Dr. Pisan Pongsapitch, Director of Standard Development, Thai Ministry of Agriculture

With Dr. Pisan Pongsapitch, Director of Standard Development, Thai Ministry of Agriculture

Election of #Codex chair – Humbled and proud to be Canada’s candidate

In less than 4 months, on July 15th, 2014, the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission will be electing a new chair for the upcoming period.

I have been humbled by the decision of the Government of Canada to nominate me as Canada’s candidate for this role. Canada has a long standing support for Codex, as a founding member of the organisation in 1963. Canada continues to be a strong advocate of Codex’s mandate to protect consumers’ health worldwide and to ensure fair practices in the food trade.

I accepted this nomination as a result of my strong belief in Canada’s commitment to providing collaborative and impartial leadership to Codex, and as a result of my keen interest in further contributing, in collaboration with peers and colleagues of the Codex community, to advancing global food safety and quality.

Serving as a vice chair of the commission for the last couple of years has been one of the key highlights of my 17 year career associated with food safety and nutrition. This unique opportunity provided me with the privilege to interact with and learn from food safety leaders from around the world.

Working with such a dedicated and passionate group of food safety, food quality and nutrition professionals in Codex for over a decade, has significantly contributed to my own development and experience as a food scientist and a food regulator. In particular, and as I worked to facilitate the development and adoption of Codex’s strategic plan for 2014-19, I was able to appreciate that despite the differences of opinion and the variety of positions that we may have, we are all united by common principles of evidence-based decision-making and by a common goal to protect consumers’ health and create a level playing field for food trade.

How do I see the Chair’s role:

I consider assuming the chair’s role of an organisation such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission as a commitment to serve the codex membership through active engagement and decisive action, in alignment with the mandate of the Commission.

Serving the membership means to actively seek and listen to members’ interests and concerns and shape the direction based on their insights and input. It also means facilitating and steering the dialogue between members and fostering their engagement in Codex decision-making processes in a manner that upholds Codex’s mandate and Codex’s principles and advances our efforts to develop international food standards that serve as a reference for food regulators and food producers around the world.

I will be using this medium and other posts to share some of my thoughts and views on the responsibilities and duties of the Chairperson of Codex, considering the environment in which Codex is currently evolving. I continue to welcome your input and suggestions either via this blog or by visiting CanadaForCodex.com

#Codex Colloquium of CCLAC concludes with a robust preparation for upcoming #Codex meetings

The second and third days of the CCLAC Codex colloquium, co-organised by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Coordination for the Codex Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (CCLAC): Costa Rica and the United States Department of Agriculture (US DA), held at the headquarters of IICA concluded today March 6th, 2014.

Participants in CCLAC Codex Colloquium

Participants in CCLAC Codex Colloquium

Review of Agenda items of major upcoming meetings

Participants had a chance to engage in extensive discussions on agenda items currently identified for major upcoming Codex committees: Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR), Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF), Codex Committee on General Principles (CCGP) etc

Delegations were able to exchange their views on these items with the purpose to help them prepare national positions.

Promoting Effective participation / Mitigate language barriers

Members discussed measures to enhance effective participation from the region. In particular, the issue of timely availability of Codex documents in Spanish was raised. Participants also expressed their concern over their inability to systematically contribute effectively in electronic Working Groups (WGs), if these WGs are held in English only. Amongst the ideas that were suggested to mitigate this issue was to have members of the region volunteer to co-chair the e-WG of interest, with the intent to enable availability of documents in Spanish (by the member country from the region, co-chairing) and therefore foster participation into the e-WG in Spanish. The same approach could apply for other languages as warranted. Having members take turns in assuming this function would help share the burden/costs and support the region to be more effectively represented in these proceedings.

Discussion of implementation of the Codex strategic plan and other matters:

Participants had also the opportunity to discuss in groups and at plenary, some aspects related to the implementation of the Codex Strategic Plan 2014-19 and concrete contributions from the region to support such implementation.

Final note:

Codex Costa Rica Team with CCLAC Regional Coordinator (Ms. Isabel Cristina Araya) and Dr. Gilherme Costa, Candidate for Vice Chair (Brazil)

Codex Costa Rica Team with CCLAC Regional Coordinator (Ms. Isabel Cristina Araya) and Dr. Gilherme Costa, Candidate for Vice Chair (Brazil)

Having been given the opportunity to either observe or contribute in the colloquium work, I have appreciated the level of engagement, investment and commitment of participants from the region to Codex proceedings, the importance of Codex’s work and its impact on food regulatory and standard setting activities in the region. I have also witnessed how an effective regional coordination, such as that demonstrated by the Codex team from Costa Rica, as the regional coordinator, can lead to increased members’ awareness of major issues and challenges and foster their involvement and active contribution in Codex work.

With Dr. Gilherme Costa at the CCLAC Codex Colloquium
With Dr. Gilherme Costa at the CCLAC Codex Colloquium

This meeting gave me the opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss our upcoming food standard setting priorities in Codex with Dr. Gilherme Costa (Brazil), candidate for the Vice Chair position of the CAC.

In front of the Canada Room, where several proceedings took place, at IICA's headquarters

In front of the Canada Room, where several proceedings took place, at IICA’s headquarters

I appreciated the generous and gracious hospitality of IICA as the host organisation, supported by the US DA and Costa Rica as the regional coordinator.  Meeting organisers and participants are to be congratulated for a very well-run and attended colloquium and a flawless and efficient organisation. A very successful event.