The Codex Alimentarius Commission, established by FAO and WHO in 1963 develops harmonised international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect the health of the consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade (Codex).

Why CODEX is important

Codex is important because the food safety policies developed are considered international best practice and most countries will implement these, helping to create a level playing field for trade between countries. This means it is critical that the policies developed at Codex are appropriate for the Australian situation.

SafeFish Technical Input

To ensure that the Australian position on the Codex agenda items addresses industry concerns, SafeFish follows a formalised process to provide technical briefs to support the Australian delegation. This process involves:

  1. Scoping issues of relevance to the Australian seafood sector from the Codex agenda of upcoming meetings
  2. Eliciting feedback from industry and technical experts on high priority draft Codex papers associated with the Codex agenda
  3. Developing a draft SafeFish technical brief on key agenda items
  4. Providing the draft SafeFish briefs to industry and expert stakeholders for review, additions and comment as well as incorporating this where possible/feasable
  5. Liaising with Codex Australia and Department of Agriculture on the brief and incorporating government feedback
  6. Discussing the SafeFish briefs and any unresolved issues at the Codex Panel meeting
  7. Finalising the briefs and submitting to Codex Australia.

For access to any of the technical briefs that have been prepared, please contact the SafeFish secretariat.

Current Issues Relevant to the Australian Seafood Industry

Below are a list of issues currently under discussion at Codex that are relevant to the Australian Seafood Industry. SafeFish welcomes any technical advice, comments or input around these issues:

A number of other issues that SafeFish is currently monitoring for the Seafood industry can be found here.

Codex Reports

Depending on the meeting and the issues that form the agenda, SafeFish has a small amount of funding that can be used to support a technical representative attending and assisting the Australian delegation at Codex meetings. This delegate provides technical support both leading up to and at the meeting as well as prepares a comprehensive report that details the discussions at the meeting, Australia’s input and areas of development or concern for SafeFish. The SafeFish delegate reports  from previous Codex committee meetings can be found below.


The Codex Committee on Fish and Fishery Products (CCFFP) is a Commodity Committee that develops international food safety standards/policies for fish, crustaceans and molluscs.

At the last meeting (October 2015), the committee finalised all issues (except histamine) and declared that CCFFP would be dissolved. To finalise the histamine issue, an electronic working group was proposed to continue discussions as agreement could not be reached on safe maximum levels, and more work was considered necessary in this area.

SafeFish will be taking part in the electronic working group discussions and invites anyone with interest in the area to contact the Secretariat.


The Codex Committee on Food Hygiene is a General Subject Committee that develops policies on food hygiene issues that are applicable to all food types, not just seafood. In recent years, the CCFH have been working on developing a guideline on the control of foodborne viruses in foods, with a specific annex focused on bivalve molluscs. The Guideline has been developed by Codex primarily because internationally, there has been an increase in the number of outbreaks of norovirus (gastroenteritis) and hepatitis, an infection related to consumption of some food types, including molluscs.

SafeFish has provided considerable technical input into the development of this Guideline, which was finalised in Dec 2012. For access to this information please contact the SafeFish Secretariat.

The next CCFH meeting (48th Session) will be held from the 7th-11th of November 2016 (location yet to be confirmed).


The Codex Committee on Food Additives is a General Subject Committee that develops policies on permitted maximum levels for individual food additives, helps to prepare priority lists of food additives for risk assessment by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, assigns functional classes to individual food additives, recommends specifications of identity and purity for food additives for adoption by the Commission, considers methods of analysis for the determination of additives in food, and considers and elaborates on standards or codes for related subjects such as the labelling of food additives when sold as such.

In 2015, SafeFish has been providing the Australian delegation technical input into the discussions being had by an electronic working group led by Japan, on whether a maximum level for methyl-mercury should be set in fish. For access to this input, please contact the SafeFish secretariat.

The next CCCF meeting (48th Session) will be held from the 4th-8th April 2016 in the Netherlands.


The Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods is a General Subject Committee that determines priorities for the consideration of residues of veterinary drugs in foods, recommends maximum levels for such substances, develops codes of practice, and considers methods of sampling and analysis for the determination of veterinary drug residues in foods.

The next CCRVDF meeting (23rd Session) will be held from 17th -21st October 2016.