India to host Codex committee on spices, aromatic herbs & formulations

India will soon consolidate its position as the leader of the world spices and herbs space.

The country will host and bear the expenditure incurred on the Codex Committee on Spices, Aromatic Herbs and their Formulations, a subsidiary body of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. This will be possible following the recent approval of India’s proposal for setting up this committee.

The approval came at the 35th session of the joint food standards programme of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) in Rome, which was held recently. Incidentally, at the same session India’s Sanjay Dave was re-elected as chairman of Codex for the third consecutive time.

Dave explained, “The Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs – standards for which did not exist prior to India's proposal – was approved.” He added that the proposal had the backing of other countries.

“Spices Board India – the Kochi-based body set up under the aegis of the ministry of commerce and industry – is one of the two contact points for the committee, the other being the National Codex Committee, which convenes at the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) headquarters in New Delhi,” he said.

Although the list of top spice-producing nations includes China, Indonesia and Sri Lanka (which is one of the leading pepper-producing countries in the world), Spices Board India labelled the proposal for the committee “an Indian initiative.”

Need for harmonisation

Dave said, “The proposal to institute a Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs was put forth keeping in mind the need to have harmonised standards for spices, herbs and herbal formulations.”

The harmonisation of standards for spices and herbs under Codex would entail a host of benefits to the various countries that produce them. These are as follows:

?    Facilitates unified classification and harmonisation of spices and herbs, taking advantage of the ISO standards or standards of any other international organisation;

?    ISO does not cover standards for value-added products, including herbal formulations;

?    Ensures transparency, fair trade practices in trade and commerce in spices and the health of consumers across the globe, because spices are active food ingredients and additives;

?    Eliminates trade barriers and triggers consultation and cooperation among spice-producing countries;

?    Facilitates the harmonisation of standards, which in turn, facilitates trade;

?    Facilitates capacity-building in spice-producing countries, which benefits the developing countries;

?    Helps in identifying unique varieties of spices and herbs with active properties and ingredients which can ensure better marketability and fair prices to the farmers, and

?    The Codex platform adds value on account of inter-governmental consultations and gives the basis for enactment of legislations in required areas at the national level

The changing face of international trade has led to the requirement by manufacturers and processors to have single, globally-acceptable technical standards and conformance tests.

“Though there are international standards for spices, there is no common body dealing in product-specific harmonised standards for whole spices, ground spices, spice mixes/blends, spice oils and oleoresins, herbs and herbal formulations,” Dave said.

“The common body should ideally be one like the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which has inter-governmental participation from many of the spice-producing and consuming nations around the world, where discussions and formulations of themes and ideas could be done to formulate harmonised standards,” he added.

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