UN commission on global food standards takes action against dangerous bacteria

Among the measures passed by the body, known officially as the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), guidance has been formulated to help prevent the contamination of Ochratoxin A, a fungal toxin which can also cause cancer in humans, in coffee.It also approved measures to avert the formulation of acrylamide, a potentially dangerous chemical, in potato products.CAC was established in 1963 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) to set food standards to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade.During its meeting in Rome, which was attended by some 500 people representing 125 countries, the body also launched new projects, including schemes to set maximum levels for melamine in food and feed.A chemical most commonly found in the form of white crystals, melamine can cause kidney stones when consumed, potentially stop the production of urine, lead to kidney failure and in some cases death.“Applying Codex standards and guidelines are an important part of ensuring that consumers in every part of the world can be protected from unsafe food,” said Ezzeddine Boutrif, FAO Director of the Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division. 6 July 2009Dozens of new international standards, including measures to curb dangerous bacteria in food, have been adopted by the United Nations commission on international food standards at the end of a week-long meeting. read more

Ban praises progress of panel to investigate chemical weapons in Syria

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) was established this past August after the passage of a resolution by the UN Security Council. The joint body has been tasked with identifying “individuals, entities, groups, or governments involved in the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical” in Syria.Speaking at a regularly scheduled press briefing, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said that Mr. Ban met today with Head of OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, Ms. Virginia Gamba, as well as Mr. Adrian Neritani and Mr. Eberhard Schanze, the Deputies to Ms. Gamba, who together comprise the Leadership Panel of the Joint Investigative Mechanism. “The Secretary-General congratulated the members of the JIM Leadership Panel on their respective appointments, and expressed his confidence in their ability to lead the work of the JIM with utmost integrity and professionalism,” said Mr. Dujarric.The Spokesperson added that Ms. Gamba had provided the Secretary-General with an update on the progress made toward ensuring the mechanism was fully operational, and that both agreed on the importance of the mechanism’s independence and impartiality. Mr. Dujarric also took the opportunity to share the Secretary-General’s concern over “the continuing allegations of the use of chemical as weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic” as well as his condemnation of any use of chemical weapons. “In this context, the Secretary-General underlined that the unique mandate of the JIM demonstrates the determination of the international community to hold those who use chemical weapons accountable,” said the Spokesperson. read more