The first survey on the use and impact of Codex Alimentarius texts shows that more than 80 percent of Codex member countries are satisfied with the international food safety guidelines, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO).

Mandated to monitor use and impact of Codex texts through the Codex Strategic Plan 2020–2025, in 2021, the Secretariat, in collaboration with FAO and World Health Organization (WHO) evaluation offices, began developing a mechanism to explore issues such as accessibility, relevance, and credibility concerning Codex standards. The 2022 survey, launched in September of that year, served as the pilot for the new monitoring program. The 2023 survey is already open for responses.

Of the total 189 Codex members, 98 responded to the survey, which consisted of 20 questions on the reach, usefulness, and use of Codex texts. One survey response per Codex member was submitted by Codex contact points. The information gathered from the survey was reported at the aggregate level, and individual member responses are not attributed in any report.

The survey focused on four Codex texts:

  • “General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food and Feed”
  • “General Principles of Food Hygiene”
  • General Standard for the Labeling of Pre-Packaged Foods”
  • “General Principles for the Addition of Essential Nutrients to Foods.”

Survey analysis showed Codex texts to commonly be used as a baseline to inform food legislation, policies, regulations, programs, and practices at the national level. Of the respondents, 52 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) reported a greater impact by Codex texts in supporting legislation, policies, national food control systems, university curricula, training, and awareness raising. However, 46 high-income countries reported that they generally already have established food control systems, more resources, and advanced technical expertise.

The findings also highlighted the need for continued efforts to monitor and address the challenges Codex members face in the implementation and utilization of Codex texts. Recommendations include:

  • Increasing awareness of Codex texts among national stakeholders
  • Prioritizing capacity building and training
  • Improving dissemination of Codex texts
  • Continuing communication and collaboration
  • Increasing resources.

For future surveys, the Codex Secretariat will consider validation of the survey framework, measuring the impact of Codex texts on trade, strengthening and monitoring evaluation partnerships, and maintaining effective stakeholder communication.