World Health Organization tells CODEX ALIMENTARIUS to Change Direction: Make Contribution to World Health by Focusing on Nutrition

Share Article

In a surprise ending to the deliberations of the 28th CODEX ALIMENTARIUS Commission (CAC) meeting in Rome today, the World Health Organization (WHO) directed CODEX to change direction to include a focus on nutrition so that it could "make a contribution to world health". CAC was further directed to implement the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. WHO told CAC it would be required to report once a year to the WHO on its progress in supporting world health through nutrition.

At the final session of its substantive deliberations in Rome today, CODEX ALIMENTARIUS Commission (CAC) was instructed by its parent originations, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to change direction and make a contribution to world health by participate actively in, and facilitating, the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health (Global Strategy). The WHO and FAO presented CAC with a Discussion Paper which focused on what CAC, the food standard-setting trade commission of the UN, could do to improve health world-wide given how little progress it had made over several decades in that area.

Despite the obvious connection between food, nutrition and health, CAC has consistently treated nutrients as toxic substances. This policy was reversed today when the WHO and FAO expressed significant displeasure with the anti-health approach to nutrition taken by the CAC over the past 4 decades and its failure to make a contribution to world health because of this policy.

The joint directive from CAC's parent organizations represents a major shift away from the strong anti-nutrition bias of the two CAC Committees involved in nutrition. The CODEX Committee on Nutrition and Food for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) has consistently defined nutrients as toxins and uses toxicology-based "Risk Assessment Science" to sharply limit and control exposure to them because of presumed, but unsubstantiated, "toxic risks" from nutrients. The CODEX Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL) currently prohibits any claims of nutritional benefit for foods "to protect consumers".

This pro-illness position had evoked strong opposition. Organizations like the Natural Solutions Foundation,, have challenged this assertion and the policy support it has received from the United States CODEX Office because of the demonstrated safety and efficacy of nutrients in the prevention, treatment and cure of chronic degenerative diseases. In fact, the Natural Solutions Foundation legally challenged the US CODEX Policy on nutrients through a Citizen's Petition which has drawn public and Congressional support (available at

Advocates of world health like the WHO have been deeply concerned with the lack of CAC's contribution to world health and, along with the FAO, commissioned an extensive examination of CAC by a group of consultants in 2002.

This consultation report, discussed yesterday in the CAC session, noted among its 20 recommendations the serious concern that "The [CAC] should consider carefully whether nutrition should play a role in CODEX, and if so, what that role should be". In discussing this issue, the WHO Under Secretary for Food Safety, Karen Leitner, noted that CAC had not done enough for world health and that the small WHO budget allotment for CAC reflected that failure and WHO's displeasure.

Today's comments further demonstrated the WHO's displeasure with the 42 year failure of CAC to make a meaningful contribution to world health, especially through world nutrition.

In the WHO/FAO document on CAC and the Global Strategy it was noted that the mandate ("Terms of Reference") of both CCFL and CCNFSDU should be amended to deal with the role of nutrition in the prevention and reduction of chronic diseases, an approach which the CCNFSDU has adamantly opposed during Dr. Rolf Grossklaus' lengthy tenure as its Chairman. In fact, his repeated statement on the topic is "Nutrition has no role in medicine".

Pro-health forces can be expected to support the WHO/FAO thrust in reversing the CCNFSDU and CCFL anti-nutrient stance.

The WHO further noted that it would expect a yearly report by the CAC on its progress in making a contribution to human health.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author