Thursday, July 5, 2012

Codex Alimentarius Commission Agrees on Maximum Level of Melamine in Liquid Milk Formula for Babies and New Food Safety Standards

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, jointly run by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), sets international food safety and quality standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for consumers worldwide. Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation, and provide the food safety benchmarks for international food trade.

Melamine can be lethal at high concentrations and has been used illegally to increase apparent protein content in food products including infant formula and milk powder. Milk tainted with melamine has caused death and illness in infants. Two years ago, the Codex Commission adopted a maximum melamine level of 1 mg/kg for powdered infant formula and of 2.5 mg/kg for other foods and animal feed. The Commission has now set a maximum limit of 0.15 mg/kg for melamine in liquid infant milk.

Melamine is used to make dishware and kitchenware, among other industrial applications. The new limit will help governments protect consumers by determining if detected levels of melamine result from unavoidable melamine contamination that does not cause health problems or from deliberate adulteration.

Dried figs and aflatoxins
Aflatoxins, a group of mycotoxins produced by molds, are toxic and are known to be carcinogenic. They can be found in a variety of products such as dried fruits, nuts, spices and cereals at high levels if the produce is not stored properly. The Commission now agreed a safe maximum limit of 10 micrograms/kg for dried figs, together with details on how test sampling should be conducted.

Mandatory nutrition labeling
Codex recommended that food manufacturers across the world label nutritional content on their products to ensure that consumers are better informed; the recommendation is in line with WHO’s Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health and is a major step forward in promoting healthy eating worldwide.

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