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NEWS RELEASE CODEX SENDS MELAMINE BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD NHF lends a big helping hand to this decision
July 15, 2011
CODEX SENDS MELAMINE BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
NHF lends a big helping hand to this decision
As our members and followers already know, at the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s 34th session in Geneva, Switzerland this last week of July 4-9, 2011, the Commission met and debated many standards, including that of ractopamine. But another standard that came up for debate was the one concerning the toxic contaminant Melamine, a man-made chemical used in tableware, food equipment, packaging, and a few pesticides that has poisoned and killed infants and pets alike in the past and which continues to plague all of us as one of many low-level background contaminants.
This Codex standard was the “Proposed Draft Maximum Levels for Melamine in Liquid Infant Formula.” As reported previously, the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF) had approved sending up this draft Standard for approval by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Unfortunately, CCCF had done this over the strong objections of the National Health Federation (NHF) as well as the delegations of Costa Rica, Peru, and Nicaragua. The main sticking point in our minds had been (and still is) that although the Maximum Levels for Melamine contamination had been lowered to 0.15 mg/kg at the last CCCF meeting, an exemption with no limit had been created for Melamine migration from food packaging material into the formula itself! As NHF argued then, and once again at the Commission meeting last week, this was an exemption with a hole big enough to drive a truck through!
When NHF first began following the Melamine contamination issue in 2009, NHF was the only Codex attendee to speak out on the dangers of this man-made toxin. This was also true at the 2010 CCCF meeting in Izmir, Turkey. Yet, by the 2011 CCCF meeting, Costa Rica, Peru, Nicaragua, and Tanzania had joined NHF in speaking out against this public-health hazard. Now, opposition has snowballed to Costa Rica, Columbia, Chile, Uruguay, Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, and one other delegation, as well as the NHF, so that at the Commission meeting in Geneva, ten country delegations and NHF opposed the draft standard.
As Scott Tips, the NHF’s president and delegate at these meetings, said to the Commission:
“The CCCF Chairman defended the proposed standard along with the huge exemption that made a mockery of the lowered limit on contamination, stating in part that there was no danger of melamine migration from packaging and that in any case it was unavoidable. When my turn to speak arrived, I responded that if there were no danger from such migration, then why was it not subject to the limit as well? And I argued further that it was avoidable by changing manufacturing processes to eliminate melamine spraying onto the packaging material used. No one can be, or is, sure of the true danger posed by melamine migration into these formulas being consumed by infants with immature detoxification systems.”
The Chairmen and Chairwomen of the Codex Committees and the Commission itself wield considerable power, especially where the issue is close. This issue was close; and, to her immense credit, Commission Chairwoman Karen Hulebak made the brave and correct decision to send this standard back to the Committee for further discussion and debate. Equally impressive was her subsequent defense of this decision against Australia, Canada, and Fiji’s concerted attempts to get her to change her mind. To Canada’s tedious arguments that it had conducted risk assessments showing no risk, the Chairwoman firmly replied, “Share it widely with CCCF next year.” And that was that.
For further information on Codex, please visit the NHF website (Codex):
NHF Codex Book -
National Health Federation: Established in 1955, the National Health Federation is a consumer-education, health-freedom organization working to protect individuals' rights to choose to consume healthy food, take supplements and use alternative therapies without unnecessary government restrictions. The NHF is the only such organization with recognized observer-delegate status at Codex meetings.
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