When standards are to be developed or updated around the world, we look to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) for the "food code."
Codex is an international body of 188 members in fields of food safety, nutrition, biotechnology, food labeling and pesticides that establishes Codex standards to protect consumers' health and remove barriers to trade. Codex functions under the joint auspices of the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Both U.S. and Canada participate with Codex to promote international harmonization of food standards.
An example of Codex in action is when an international standard for gluten-free was required. Codex considered various science-based perspectives before selling a definition.
Codex was established in 1963 to set international guidelines, codes and practice. Today, Codex standards continue to be used by food labelers around the world. In our Food Label Community, members from many countries reference Codex standards in their comments. At Food Consulting Company, we also use Codex as one of the many resources to bring you insights about food labeling.
See Codex website.
Bullseye: Codex has no direct impact on food labels or products sold in the U.S. or Canada until the countries act on a Codex decision. In the U.S., we must follow the Code of Federal Regulations and in Canada the Canadian Food and Drug Regulations - even when they conflict with the Codex standards. Still, seasoned food labelers often look to Codex standards to validate or provide guidance when there are complexities in the regulations.