The African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) / United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) /FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Africa (CCAfrica) Colloquium on Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) was held in Lomé, Togo from 17 to 19 February 2015 at the Hôtel IBIS. The participants comprised Food Safety experts including Codex Contact Point Officers/persons, senior experts and officials under ministries of health, agriculture, livestock and fisheries from Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Togo, United Republic of Tanzania and United States of America, and representatives from AU-IBAR and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).
Funded by the USDA Codex office, the Colloquium was officially opened by Mr. Babako Moet, Secretary General, representing the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the Government of Togo. Dr. Bonfoh, Director General of the Institut Togolais de Recherche Agronomique (ITRA) gave opening remarks on behalf of the ITRA which is the Codex Contact Point for Togo. AU-IBAR opening remarks were given by Dr. Raphael Coly, AU-IBAR PANSPSO Coordinator, while USDA remarks were made by Mrs Mary Frances Lowe, U.S. Codex Manager. CCAfrica opening remarks were given by Mr. Jean Martin Etoundi, Secrétaire Technique du CCAFRICA.
The objectives of the colloquium were:
- To get updates on Africa food safety issues as they relate to studies and control of mycotoxins, Ochratoxin in coffee and cocoa in Cote d'Ivoire and fumonisins in maize in Tanzania;
- To identify areas of capacity building on Codex participation and on food safety organization in Africa including risk analysis and establishment of food control authorities at national and regional levels;
- To exchange views and share experiences between CCAfrica and U.S. Codex Delegates on Codex draft standards under discussion in various Codex committees;
- To find opportunities to collaborate on strategies for advancing shared regional positions; and
- To adopt harmonized positions on key Codex issues of importance to both regions.
The Colloquium was organized in such a manner that presentations were made on day one in a plenary. The plenary presentations included:
- An overview and objectives of the colloquium;
- Reinforcing National Codex Committees: Case of countries in Central Africa;
- Importance of science in the Codex work with reference to the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA); the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR); and the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meetings on Microbiological Risk Assessment (JEMRA);
- Determination of contamination level of ochratoxin A in green coffee beans and cocoa at export;
- The risk management dilemma for fumonisin mycotoxins – study done in Tanzania; and
- Discussion on the implementation of the CCAfrica Regional Codex guideline "CAC/GL 43R-2003: African Regional Guidelines for Codex Contact Points and National Codex Committees"
Discussions were held following the presentations and the following recommendations were agreed upon:
Importance of FAO/WHO Scientific Bodies (JECFA, JMPR, AD HOC EXPERT CONSULTATIONS) to Codex Work
- Participants and particularly CCP Officers/persons were advised to visit the JECFA, JEMRA; JMPR FAO/WHO websites to look for calls for experts and circulate the information to the potential experts and encourage them to apply;
- Participants and particularly CCP Officers/persons were also advised to visit the JECFA, JEMRA; JMPR FAO/WHO websites to look for calls for data and circulate the same to their national research institutions including universities to source for the requested data for submission to the respective FAO/WHO Scientific Body;
- Codex Contact Point Officers/persons are encouraged to identify the different experts in their countries and make a national roster of experts in line with the requirements from the three FAO/WHO Scientific Bodies providing science to Codex;
- CCP and National Codex Committees are encouraged to involve academia or universities and other research institutions in their country in national and international Codex activities including raising their awareness on the benefits and opportunities arising from their involvement in the Codex process.
- Member States are encouraged to reference the Codex standards in their national food safety and quality regulations, thereby enhancing compliance to the World Trade Organization Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Agreement (WTO-SPS Agreement).
- African countries are encouraged to apply for FAO and WHO and other development partners' support in carrying out studies for the purpose of collecting national and regional scientific data.
- Universities in the CCAfrica Region are encouraged to initiate food safety programmes and start training young scientists on food safety including on Codex activities.
Recommendations Arising from The FAO Project for Central African Countries - TCP FAO 3402
- Countries are to endeavour to legally establish their CCP and NCC;
- Countries are to assess the establishment of their CCP and NCC in line with the recommendations or the CCAfrica Guideline N°43 R-2003 and adjust accordingly.
Determination of the Level of Ochratoxin A (OTA) Contamination in Export Green Coffee Beans
- Countries are to strengthen the capacities of national Codex structures for sustainable implementation of Codex standards and their regulations within an effective food control system (equipped inspection services and laboratories).
- African countries are encouraged to organize and support farmers in the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) including proper transportation and storage of the produce to minimize contamination and growth of fungi in coffee and cocoa beans.
- CCAfrica is to endeavor to develop regional guidelines for the prevention and reduction of ochratoxins in coffee and cocoa.
Impact of Other Standards-Setting Bodies
- CCAfrica is to encourage Codex members to abide by the guidelines on cooperation between the Codex Alimentarius Commission and International Intergovernmental Organizations in the elaboration of standards as detailed in the 23rd Codex Procedure Manual.
The Risk Management Dilemma for Fumonisin Mycotoxins
- Countries should advocate for proper sorting, dehulling and drying methods for reducing fuminosins levels in cereals;
- CCAfrica is to encourage Codex to review the recently adopted Maximum Tolerable Limits (MTL) for fuminosins in maize in order to protect health of African people who are the main maize consumers;
- Countries should also advocate for implementation of GAP geared towards reducing fuminosins levels in maize. (We have Codex Code of Practice for control of mycotoxins including fumonisins in cereals).
- Member States and development partners to support training of food safety stakeholders on prevention of mycotoxins in food including implementation of the Codex "Code of Practice for the Prevention and Reduction of Mycotoxin Contamination in Cereals, including Annexes on Ochratoxin A, Zearalenone, Fumonisins and Tricothecenes - CAC/RCP 51-2003"
Monitoring of the Implementation of the Recommendations
- CCAfrica member countries (CCPs, NCCs) are to report every six months to the CCAfrica Coordinator of progress made at the national level with regards to the implementation of these recommendations.
- CCAfrica Coordinator to circulate to all CCAfrica members the progress made in the implementation of these recommendations by different CCAfrica countries.
On day two of the colloquium, the participants were divided and worked in three groups. One group addressed issues on the agenda of the 29th session of the Codex Committee on General Principles (CCGP) while the second one considered matters for the 9th session of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF). The third group handled issues on the agenda of the 22nd session of the Codex committee on residues of Veterinary drugs in Food (CCRVDF). All the three groups reconvened to plenary session on day three presenting outcomes of the work done in the working groups. The working group work was organized into text to be sent to all CCAfrica countries for comments and further consideration.