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Moving Towards a Common EAC Position on Matters in the Agenda of Upcoming Codex Committees

One of the objectives of MARKUP is to improve the harmonisation of standards for the priority value chains. Under the leadership of GIZ, one of the avenues to achieve this objective is through effective participation in the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its subsidiary bodies. Codex is an intergovernmental body that coordinates development of food standards and other recommendations at the international level with an objective of protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair practices in international and national food trade.

The EAC Codex Forum had its 2nd Extra-Ordinary Meeting from 23rd to 26th March 2021. The virtual meeting was attended by five members of the EAC Codex Forum from each of the six EAC Partner States, drawn from Government, private sector, academia/research and food safety experts.

The East African Community (EAC) Codex Forum is a subcommittee of the East African Standards Committee (EASC); its purpose is to coordinate Codex and food safety related issues in the EAC.

More specifically, the Codex Forum raises the profile of food safety and quality as well as Codex issues at the highest policy levels in the EAC and its Partner States. It also enhances the participation of EAC Partner States in the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and provides policy guidance and advice to the EAC and its Partner States for the implementation of food safety and quality programmes.

The 2nd Extra-ordinary meeting of the EAC Codex Forum developed regional common positions, including EAC comments and conference room documents, on matters of the 5th Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH5) to be held from 20th to 29th April 2021, the 14th Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods (CCCF14), to be held from 3rd to 13th May 2021, and the 25th Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems to be held from 31st May to 8th June 2021. A representative of the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) shared their experiences on how they have been coordinating development of common positions on Codex matters, among countries of Africa. UNIDO- the Implementing Partner for MARKUP in Kenya- is providing technical assistance to support the work of this committee.

These priority Codex Committees are of particular interest to EU-EAC MARKUP, as contaminants in foods are an area of focus in the ongoing review and development of East African standards, while spices are among the commodity value chains supported by the programme. MARKUP is also contributing to the harmonisation of EAC Partner States’ registration, certification and cross-border verification of pre-packaged foods.

"GIZ observed that technical committees on Standards need more information on tests and sampling methods for EAC standards. The Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS) will now be included in the list of priority Codex Committees for the EAC Codex Forum," said MARKUP standards expert, Prof. Martin Kimanya. "The EAC Codex Committee also requested MARKUP to support the collection of data for cadmium in cocoa beans to be used in assessing whether adoption of maximum limits for cadmium in cocoa powder should be introduced," he added. 

Furthermore, the Codex Forum agreed to enhance cooperation and partnership with the African Union through its Inter-African bureau of animal resources (AU-IBAR) in the development of common positions on matters of interest to Africa to be discussed in Codex meetings.