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28th annual meeting of the Codex Alimentarius

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is the joint international food standard setting body of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO). Its membership includes 171 countries and the European Community.

At this year's annual meeting, the Commission is considering several draft food standards for adoption. These include the Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements, and the issue of whether a standard on Parmesan cheese should be developed.

The basis for the proposed international Guidelines on Vitamins and Mineral Food Supplements already exists as part of national frameworks in some of Codex's large Member States. The Guidelines, if adopted by Codex, will not replace existing national standards or create new national rules where none exist. Instead, national authorities can choose whether to use them when considering what standards to adopt for their countries and to ensure compatibility of national standards across borders.

The possible future work on Parmesan cheese - which would set a worldwide standard on how a cheese should be produced if it is to be called Parmesan - has been a pending issue in Codex for several years. Because of the intellectual property implications involved ("geographic indication") and other considerations, opinions of Codex members are, so far, divided.

Other technical matters which Codex will address will include means to prevent antimicrobial resistance caused by the use of antimicrobials (including antibiotics) in animal production and the incidence of Enterobacter sakazakii in infant formula.

This session of Codex will also elect a new Chairperson and Vice-Chairpersons for the Commission, and will review the current structure of its subsidiary bodies.

When: The Codex Executive Committee meets from 30 June to 2 July 2005 to advise the Commission on selected issues, and the Commission meeting takes place from 4-9 July 2005.

Where: FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy

For media: The meeting is open to journalists, who can receive accreditation at Building A of FAO Headquarters at Viale delle Terme di Caracalla from 08H00, Monday, 4 July. A valid press card issued by the Italian government, the Vatican, or a United Nations Agency will be required. An official letter of designation on the letter-head of a recognized media organization signed by an editor will also be accepted. To speed accreditation, please fax copies to the FAO Media Office at +39 06 5705 3729 to the attention of Ms. Maria Barroso.

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For more information contact:

Mr Gregory Hartl
Communications Adviser, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments
WHO/Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 4458
Mobile phone: +41 79 203 6715
Fax: +41 22 791 4725
E-mail: hartlg@who.int

Mr John Riddle
Information Officer
Food and Agriculture Organization
Harare, Zimbabwe
Telephone: +39 348 257 2921
E-mail: john.riddle@fao.org