Theme/Slogan: Safe Food for a Healthy and Income Secure Population
The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), jointly created by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is the most important international body in the field of food standards. Since 1963, Codex has developed hundreds of internationally recognized standards, guidelines and codes of practice. It has defined thousands of permitted levels of additives, contaminants and chemical residues in food. The end goal: ensure food is safe for everyone, everywhere.
Food safety plays an integral role to achieving a number of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), such as SDGs 3, 8 and 12,
(i) without Food Safety, there is no healthy lives for all
(ii) without Food Safety, there is no sustainable production and consumption patterns and
(iii) without Food Safety, there is no international food trade that can help sustain economic growth.
The Codex Alimentarius contains 236 standards, 84 guidelines, 56 codes of practice, 126 maximum levels for contaminants in food contaminants in food products and over 10,000 quantitative standards that address maximum levels for food additives and maximum residue limits for pesticides and veterinary drugs residues in food (as of June 2023). To date, Uganda has developed over 1,100 standards in the area of Food and Agriculture and 150 of these directly adopted from Codex including reference to the Codex online database for Pesticides to support testing of Maximum Residue Limits in different commodities prior to placement on the market.
Over the years, Uganda has also held leadership positions in Codex including as Vice Chairperson of the CAC (2008 – 2011), CCAFRICA Coordinator (1999 – 2003), EAC Codex Forum Coordinator (since 2017) and currently serving as the Coordinator for Codex in Africa (CCAFRICA) for the second time (2020 – 2024). This highlights Uganda’s contribution and impact in the entire Codex system and justifies the need to commemorate Codex@60 to further raise the profile of Food Safety and Codex in the Country.
The 83rd National Codex Committee meeting held on 21st June 2023 agreed to initiate preparations to celebrate achievements of Codex for the last 60 years led by FOOD SAFETY ASSOCIATES Ltd in collaboration with the Uganda National Bureau of Standards and key MDAs with specific role and mandate in Food Safety and Codex.
The 60th anniversary of Codex presents an excellent opportunity to showcase the key benefits of Codex standards, through awareness raising events, case studies on impact and other success stories. But it is also a chance to reflect on the future of Codex as part of the current global agenda and how it can contribute to the transformation of food systems.
Planned Events and activities
The Food Safety Conference will include technical sessions on priority Food Safety issues during the first two days and culminates with a high-level policy event on the 3rd day. The conference will bring together actors in the Business Community impacted by the food safety issues, MDAs, Local Governments, Civil Society Organizations, Experts, researchers and academia with interest in food safety and standards; Development Partners, International and Regional Organizations interested in the standards and work of codex such as EAC, ARSO, AUC, FAO, WHO, INFOSAN, among others. The conference will be an opportunity for Development Partners to show case the support and interventions being undertaken to promote the implementation of food standards and food safety Measures in the country and the region. It will also be an opportunity for MDAs to share information on on-going programs and initiatives to promote food safety. The SMEs will particularly find the conference very key in sharing information and knowledge with their peers in the industry on the strategies and appropriate mechanisms and processes to achieve compliance with the standards for the local, regional and international markets. Other stakeholders such as the civil society organization will use the conference to obtain information on the on-going government programs and government initiatives to promote food safety that are aimed to change the livelihoods of the people; but they will also share platform with the technical implementers of food safety related programs to understand their effectiveness in improving the lives of the people.
Representation of the local governments will ensure that the food safety measures implemented by the different stakeholders are cascaded to lower levels to create meaningful change on the health of the consumers and food business operators. The conference will also benefit from addresses by the technical experts in the area of food safety drawn from Uganda, the EAC region, ARSO and AUC, FAO and WHO among others. During the conference, it is expected that an initiative to introduce/establish food safety committees (FSC) within MDAs, food industry, Civil society, local governments, industry and food vending market and all the relevant food handling governance structures in the country as way to inculcate a food safety culture will be launched.
The conference will be highly billed and will also attract participation of the FAO/WHO Codex Headquarters in Rome, WHO, The African Union Commission and East African Secretariat, Africa Regional Standards Organization (ARSO) to highlight the importance of the CODEX and Regional Coordinating Bodies in development and implementation food safety standards. To organize the conference, highly rated service providers will be engaged to ensure that the organization meets world class standards.
Food Safety awareness and promotion sessions will be arranged and conducted in selected food vending markets (including high-way food establishments) in the different regions in the country. These sessions are expected to be held in markets during the period leading to the day earmarked for the climax of Codex@60 commemoration. They will be organised for market vendors in selected markets to increase the consciousness of food safety amongst them. To undertake this, key officials of relevant MDAs, Civil society and technical experts will craft messages and collaborate with local governments media promotion companies to deliver messages packaged in the appropriate formats through effective modes that reach the producers, buyers and sellers operating in the different markets, both in urban and peri urban areas of the country including popular highway food vending markets
A video documentary depicting Uganda’s evolution and improvements in Food Safety and Codex work with specific emphasis on key excelling value chains such as Coffee, Dairy and Fish and highlighting the food safety challenges in poorly performing value chains and informal sector such as food vending market areas will be developed and disseminated during the conference and other channels to raise the profile of food safety in work of stakeholders. The conference will have a session for watching the video documentary and issues highlighted in the video will be a subject of panel discussions with clear actions to address the issues to be identified in the sessional resolutions. The video script will be drafted by key experts in food safety and actors in the value chain to capture the scenarios that represent the food value chain in Uganda. The video will be taken by the production experts to ensure high quality and high-definition of the video that depict the situation in the food value chain.
Television and Radio programmes will be prepared and presented on popularly watched and listened to TV channels and radio stations in the different regions in the Country to create awareness on Food Safety and Codex. In order to highlight the importance of food safety and work of codex, and also in order to promote the implementation of food safety related standards and increase awareness of the general public on the issues, collaboration will be sought between responsible MDA, experts, managers of on-going food standards and food safety programme and representatives of relevant civil society to participate in TV and radio programs, targeting the stations that reach out to wider audience in the country.
Information, education and training and communication materials based on key Codex deliverables such as CXG 22R-1997, Regional Guidelines for the design of control measures for Street-Vended Foods (Africa) and CXG 98-2022, Guidelines for developing harmonized Food Safety Legislation for the CCAFRICA Region will be developed and disseminated. Also simplified handbooks on personal hygiene in food business operations, food hygiene food business operations, cleaning and sanitizing in food handling operations, implementation of HACCP and Food safety management in food handling premises will be printed and distributed to food businesses in markets, restaurants, food handling and processing SMEs and others
At the end of the Conference different individuals, organizations and development partners who have supported Codex work and promoted food safety initiative in Uganda in the last 30 years will be recognized and given gifts and prizes. This will be done as a way to motivate efforts in promoting the implementation of food safety measures and advancing Codex work in the country. There will be recognition of the individuals, organizations and development partners who have done extra-ordinarily to advance the work of Codex and supporting food safety initiatives in the country. The recognition will come in form of a special Codex@60 plaque, certificate and a small financial prize. These awards will be given at the end of the Food Safety Conference that will mark the end of the events for commemoration of the Codex@60.
Participation in the Code@60 Commemoration Food Safety Conference and related activities
The events commemorating Codex@60 are intended for key state and non-state actors including policymakers, government officials (food regulators; authorities responsible for Food Safety from the different line ministries, departments and agencies of governments; nutrition and food safety related program managers), key local governments, expert organizations, relevant academia and research organizations involved in food safety works, development partners supporting standards and food safety work in the country, international organizations such as FAO, WHO, WFP and other relevant UN agencies, CSOs & NGOs in the field of Food Safety and nutrition; Consumer organizations; Food Business Operators, and regional bodies such as EAC, ARSO and AUC
Planning and Organization of the Events and Activities
The 83rd meeting of the National Codex Committee of the 21st June resolved that Private sector represented by Food Safety Associates Limited, whose experts have played roles in similar events organised by other countries, EAC, other RECs and AUC to work with the MDAs and other stakeholders to spearhead the organisation of the CODEX@60 commemoration activities in Uganda.