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26th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission

Rome - July 2003 - In his address given during the 26th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which was held in Rome, from 30 June to 4 July 2003, the Director General of the OIE, reviewed the progress made in the area of the collaboration between the Codex Alimentarius and the OIE since the last meeting of the Commission two years ago in Geneva.

The Director General emphasised the importance of taking the dangers encountered during the animal production phase into account, in order to help the Codex Alimentarius achieve its objectives in regard to the sanitary safety of food products of animal origin. He indicated it would be beneficial "to deal both with zoonoses, which attack both animals and humans, and pathogens that present a danger to humans without necessarily having an effect on animals".

The Director General praised the work of the Codex, and congratulated in particular its outgoing Chairman, Mr Tom Billy. He pointed out that "the courageously pursued evaluation process has highlighted the need for the three sister organisations recognised by the WTO to take into account each other's standard-setting work and the need for closer collaboration".

The setting up of a joint OIE/Codex Working Group, as decided by the OIE International Committee in May 2002, will help the two Organisations on the one hand to develop international standards covering all microbiological or biochemical dangers, notably those existing in the animal production phase, dangers that are currently only partially covered, and on the other hand to avoid any contradictory aspects in the standards developed by the two Organisations.

The joint Working Group, presided over by the outgoing Codex Chairman, Mr Tom Billy, and comprising the Codex Secretary, Mr Alan Randell, the Chairman of the Codex Committee on Meat and Poultry hygiene, Dr Andrew McKenzie, and three representatives from the Veterinary Services of countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, is already working on the draft texts of new standards on brucellosis, tuberculosis, trichinellosis, and echinococcosis, and on the role of veterinary inspectors in abattoirs, where their work is essential in guaranteeing consumer safety.

An inventory of existing standards at the Codex and at the OIE has been jointly undertaken. The aim is to provide comprehensive cover for all the dangers existing in the animal production phase by developing draft standards that can be discussed by the relevant bodies of the Codex and the OIE. This work is of the utmost importance for the two Organisations.