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Codex News Item, 1 February 2017
On July 5 2013, at its 36th session, the Codex Alimentarius Commission agreed to establish a committee hosted by India to elaborate worldwide standards for spices and culinary herbs in their dried and dehydrated state in whole, ground, and cracked or crushed form.
The spices committee meets in Chennai, India next week (6-10 February) for its 3rd session. Amongst matters under discussion will be progress on draft standards for cumin, thyme, pepper and oregano. Work will also continue on grouping of spices and culinary herbs as well as on a glossary of terms.
Q&A with Committee chairperson Dr.M.R.Sudharshan
Q: What is your job when not working on Codex and the spices committee?
A: I superannuated from the services of the Spices Board during July 2014. Since then I have been working as a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the Indian Institute of Spices Research [Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)], as Vice President of Indian Society for Spices (ISS). I also advise farmers on the scientific cultivation of spices especially cardamom, black pepper and vanilla. I participate in seminars, symposia and workshops as a subject expert.
Q: What are the current major issues regarding spices in terms of food safety and trade in your opinion?
A: Major issues are the presence of mycotoxins and pesticide residues in spices. Meeting the limits prescribed by various countries has its impact on trade.
Q: This is just the third meeting of CCSCH, how is the committee and its work developing? What are the success stories? What are the challenges?
A: The Committee is doing very well; the comments by members on various documents are well researched and positive. It is perhaps too early for success stories. The number of Spices and Culinary herbs traded across the globe is very high. A challenge perhaps is to elaborate standards for major items, which is also a high number.
Q: What are the key matters on the agenda for the committee this year?
A: There are 8 proposals for new work in addition to 2 proposed draft standards and 2 draft standards for consideration.
Q: What advice would you give first time delegates to CCSCH?
A: Kindly participate in the discussions and contribute towards consensus building and elaborating standards.
Q: On a wider note, what are the critical emerging issues on food safety for India?
A: India being a large exporter as well as importer of food faces challenges like other countries around the world, especially the antimicrobial resistance and the food borne illness are major concerns.
To see details of the Agenda of the Committee and to access documents, see the CCSCH meeting page at: http://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/meetings-reports/detail/en/?meeting=CCSCH&session=3