New Delhi, 21 April 2021: Underlining the importance of safe and quality food amidst the pandemic situation, Ms. Rita Teaotia, Chairperson, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) yesterday said that the regulatory bodies need to be more vigilant to ensure food safety and quality.  Inaugurating the fifth session of the Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) established under Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), Ms. Rita Teaotia described the risk of unscrupulous and intentional adulteration of spices through substitution due to their high economic value. “This economically motivated adulteration is a major malpractice and we need to be extremely vigilant, particularly in the regulatory space to avoid such practices. It is important that we have harmonized Codex standards for spices products in global trade and this is a work that needs the highest priority to ensure the safety and quality of the spices and culinary herbs that are being traded across the world,” she said.

The 5th Session of CCSCH began on 20th April with a series of virtual sessions running till 29 April, 2021, with nearly 300 experts from 50 countries taking part in the deliberations.  At the present session, the committee will be considering the quality Standards for dried or dehydrated forms of Ginger, Cloves, Saffron and two culinary herbs, Oregano & Basil at step seven, besides Nutmeg and Chilli peppers & Paprika at step four in the Codex procedure of elaboration of food standards. There are also three proposals for new work, viz. Cardamom, Turmeric and prioritized group standard for spices in the form of dried fruits and berries.

Delivering the opening note, Shri D. Sathiyan, Secretary, Spices Board said: “CCSCH is proud to be the first Codex Commodity Committee to take the online route for its session and it is encouraging to note the active participation from member countries even in the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic situation. Given the large number of spices and culinary herbs waiting in the ranks for consideration by the committee, it was an obvious and logical choice to bring in ‘grouping of spices’ to cover more ground quickly.”

Addressing the delegates from the member countries, Mr Guilherme da Costa Jr, Chair of Codex Alimentarius Commission said “figures on severe problems due to the lack of food safety control continue to cause thousands of food-borne illnesses, deaths, and rising unemployment every year, besides the economic crisis in different countries. It is essential and paramount to do our best – now in this new normal – to develop and disseminate Codex standards to ensure the safety and quality of food for everyone, everywhere, following the Sustainable Development Goals which are linked to the Codex mandate”.

Pointing to the need for adopting the ‘Farm to Fork’ approach for ensuring safety and traceability through out the entire supply chain, Dr. Roderico H. Ofrin, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in India said “both the producers as well as the food regulators have a critical role in ensuring compliance with food safety, quality and sustainability standards which is becoming increasingly demanding because of the concern around food safety, especially in the current context of COVID-19.”

Speaking at the occasion, Mr Konda Chavva, Assistant Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in India said that “FAO is making efforts to improve and harmonize standards by implementing specific steps and building capacities at various level to ensure food safety and fair trade, and protecting producer and consumer interests, and encouraging deliberations towards harmonization of global quality standards for spices and culinary herbs”.