Wednesday, June 16, 2021

India, the Spice Bowl of the World, Exalts Codex standards to Improve the International Spice Trade

The Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) began its 5th series of virtual sessions starting from 20 to 29 April 2021 to discuss the harmonization of global quality standards for spices and culinary herbs.

There exists a high risk of unscrupulous and intentional adulteration of spices through substitution due to their high economic value. Speaking at the inaugural session, Ms Rita Teaotia, Chairperson, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said that “this economically motivated adulteration is a major malpractice and we need to be extremely vigilant, particularly in the regulatory space to avoid such practices.”

Therefore, It is important to have harmonized Codex standards for spices products in global trade, a work that needs the highest priority to ensure the safety and quality of the spices and culinary herbs that are being traded across the world.

Over the session of 9 days, the committee will discuss seven draft standards including oregano, ginger, saffron and basil, all extremely close to being ready for adoption once the committee reaches a consensus on outstanding technical details.

Since developed countries are the major importers of spices and insist on strict standards “the development of Codex standards for these commodities will help improve the international spice trade,” stated Konda Chavva, Assistant FAO Representative in India.
He further informed that in India spices are grown in small landholdings and improving the spices value chain, based on Codex food standards, “will lead to the acceptability of farmers’ products in the global markets and better price realization for small and marginal farmers.”

Guilherme da Costa Jr, Chair of Codex Alimentarius Commission iterated that the lack of food safety control measures causes thousands of food-borne illnesses, deaths, and rising unemployment every year, in addition to accumulating for the economic crisis in different countries.

In that pretext, it becomes paramount to develop and disseminate Codex standards that would ensure the safety and quality of food for everyone, everywhere, following the Sustainable Development Goals which are linked to the Codex mandate.

Deliberating upon the need for adopting the ‘Farm to Fork’ approach for ensuring safety and traceability throughout the entire supply chain, Dr Roderico H. Ofrin, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in India emphasised that “both the producers as well as the food regulators have a critical role in ensuring compliance with food safety, quality and sustainability standards.”

Konda Chavva, Assistant Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in India informed that FAO is channelling measures to improve and harmonize standards by implementing specific steps to build capacities at various level which are intended to ensure food safety and fair trade while also protecting producer and consumer interests.

Moreover, the session detailed that in order to be a successful food exporter, a country must produce food that is acceptable to consumers in other countries and which also complies with the statutory requirements of the importing countries.

Further, this becomes increasingly demanding pertaining to the concern around food safety, especially in the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the course of these sessions, the focus will be on encouraging deliberation towards the harmonization of global quality standards for spices and culinary herbs.

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