Written by: Mallory Gaines | May 6, 2021
Nearly 600 people worldwide are participating in the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods (CCCF) virtual meeting this week, including Leah Wilkinson, who is representing the feed industry through her role on the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) delegation, and myself, on the U.S. delegation. The most significant topic to the American Feed Industry Association is the potential for new work on radioactivity in food and feed (including drinking water) in non-emergency situations.
Two years ago, when the committee last met, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) brought the concept of radioactivity in food and feed in non-emergency situations to the committee's attention. The committee decided to establish a working group, chaired by the European Union and co-chaired by Japan, to review materials, including available research to date, and report back to the committee on whether or not new work on this topic should commence. The AFIA immediately took action to get ahead of the topic to minimize the impact on our industry.
We utilized our Market Access Program (MAP) funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to hire Cooke Companies International to do a literature review and assess all studies linking radioactivity in normal circumstances in animal feed to ill effects on human health through food. Our research found very few studies on radioactivity in non-emergency situations in feed and even fewer showing any link to adverse human food safety risks. The findings indicated that there was not enough scientific evidence to support Codex work in this area. The AFIA shared the literature review with IFIF and its member countries, several international governments through industry outreach, and the Food and Drug Administration, which leads the CCCF for the United States.
Our efforts were successful! This week, the working group chairs announced, and the committee unanimously agreed, that no further work on this topic is required.
They concluded that naturally occurring radionuclides in food, feed and water do not seem to be an issue for food safety or trade.
This is the way Codex is supposed to work – evaluate the science and need for a standard and then act accordingly. To learn more about Codex, see my previous blog post.