Codex boosts the trade of UPFs, ignoring the risks to health, biodiversity and the planet

The 43rd Codex Commission  (CAC43) is meeting this week ( 24, 25, 26 September)  and  discussing some important issues. Thankfully,  CAC is much more transparent than the nutrition meetings (CCNFSDU)  CAC meetngs are webcast so everyone can follow the proceedings and check what was actually said. This is impossible at CCFSNDU where recording is forbidden.

Considering all that has happened this year and the greater public awareness of the link between health and the environment, surely its time that Codex stops green-lighting unnecessary, plastic wrapped, denatured products.  UPFs are often so highly processed and full of additives that they no longer resemble their plant or animal sources. Many contain palm oil and other ingredients derived from deforestation and land-grabbing — P3 UD49

If it is to have any credibility, Codex must stop allowing weak standards to pass. Codex decisions must be made on the basis of  convincing evidence.

We are especially concerned about two texts that may be moved on to the next step (Step 5) before they are ready.

1 Revision of Codex Follow-up Formula Standard. See IBFAN comments

  • At the last Nutrition meeting a rushed  last minite decision (initially proposed by the US on the basis of no evidence of its risk), led to an intrinsic nutrient content claim ”with added nutrients’ being added to the AGREED  name Drink for Young Children.  By falsely suggesting that the drinks have added nutritional value, legislators might be inclined to think the products are essential and so weaken safeguards limiting promotion. A promotional  name will  not only boost growth of these unnecessary products, but will mask their risks to human health, while increasing their environmental burden.  .
  • The text fails to forbid cross promotion between product categories, infant formula, FSMPs or other products marketed for infants and young children.  See above examples of Nestlé’s marketing on  for babies from 12 months that uses the Nan brand and  looks almost identical
  • Since WHO has clearly stated that milks for children  0-36 months  function as breast milk substitutes (BMS) .  It would make most sense tat all these milks are covered by oneCodex standard with one overarching preamble that forbids any promotion, including health and nutrition claims

2 Proposed draft Guidelines for Ready to Use Foods (RUTF)

IBFAN Comment on latest draft   IBFAN RUTF Briefing

  • Although some new safeguards were included in the proposed draft text, last year, the draft Guidelines are far from adequate.  RUTF are necessary in some circumstances, but they are just one option. Stronger safeguards are needed to prevent the commercial exploitation of vulnerable children and the undermining of “the UN Strategy to build capacity within countries.’
  • Unless the Guidelines clearly ban general sale and promotional claims public funds will be diverted  from healthier, less sweet and more  sustainable solutions: breastfeeding and locally sourced, culturally appropriate, bio-diverse family foods.

IBFAN is pleased that it is likely that the  work on the highly promotional and misleading definition of Biofortification will be discontinued. The definitionis highly promotional and misleading. In the EU the term Bio means ‘Organic’, so the definition would not be not legal if used in the EU (see IBFAN Statement on Biofortification)

We would be very happy for you to share this message and encourage Codex participants to support our concerns.

Codex Nutrition (CCFSNDU

Report 2019.


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