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July 16, 1999
The adoption of all of the nine dairy standards that were presented at
the recent session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Rome was a major triumph from a
New Zealand dairy point of view. The Codex Alimentarius Commission is responsible for
developing world standards for food.
The three standards on preserved milk products are of particular
significance to the New Zealand dairy industry, as they allow for protein standardisation
of milk products, thus enabling producers to get better value for their products on the
Additionally, the standard for cheese now includes de-colourising
agents. This will allow producers to compensate for colour variation caused by seasonal
changes in the milk supply.
The new Codex standards are important in international trade because
they provide a benchmark for product specifications in cases of trade dispute. Any
government whose import regulations comply with the Codex standards needs no further
defence if it takes a challenge to the World Trade Organisation. While other issues may
give rise to trade disputes between governments, from now on product specifications will
not be one of them.
The standards were adopted as part of Codex's standard review
project. The Commission is adopting standards which are scientifically based, focused on
food safety and product identity, and allow for technological innovation. Standards will
no longer include grade standards or prescription about manufacturing processes. MAF Food
is following Codex's lead in this process.
Dr Peter O'Hara (Chair of the Codex Milk Committee and former
Deputy-General of MAF), and a team from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF)
(Phil Fawcet, Raj Rajasekar, and Fiona Duncan), were key to New Zealand's role in the
successful adoption of these standards.
For more information on the Codex standards, please contact:
Phil Fawcet, MAF Food: Dairy and Plant Products Group, on 04 498 9874