For the past several years, CVM has led the U.S. delegation to the Codex Task Force on Animal Feeding. The goal of the Task Force was to establish guidances for risk assessments about feed contaminants that could affect the safety of food for humans derived from animals. Food safety problems attributed to animal feed include BSE, microbiological contamination (such as Salmonella), dioxins, heavy metals, and mycotoxins such as aflatoxins.
Not only are governments concerned with the safety of human food, many have also expressed concern that food safety regulations could be used to restrict imports. Without science-based international standards, countries might impose inappropriate barriers to trade in the name of food safety.
The Codex first created the Task Force on Animal Feeding in 2000. The original Task Force developed a Code of Practice on Good Animal Feeding, and then was temporarily closed down. However, some Codex members thought more work should be done. So at its 33rd Session in July 2010, the Codex Commission re-established the Task Force and gave it two Terms of Reference to address the concerns of the members.
The first Term of Reference was for the Task Force to develop a guideline for the application of risk assessment criteria to feed contaminants. The guideline would allow countries to assess the potential food safety risks from the presence of hazards in feed given to food producing animals. It would allow countries to prioritize and assess risks, based on local conditions, use, and the effect of a hazard on human health.
The Task Force did a great deal of its work through electronic communications, but also was authorized for two physical meetings. At the conclusion of the Task Force’s second physical meeting, held in February 2013, the members had developed a guideline to address this Term of Reference and moved it to Step 8 in the Codex process.
The second Term of Reference originally called for the development of a single, prioritized list of hazards in feed that could be used by all governments. However, several Task Force members, including the United States, said a single list could not be developed that could be uniformly applied to all countries. Furthermore, the members said, the list could not easily be maintained. Therefore, the Task Force decided to redraft the Term of Reference so that it called for a guidance for use by governments in prioritizing their national feed hazards. At the end of the second physical meeting, the redrafted guideline was at Step 5/8 in the Codex process.