The arcane procedures of the world's food standards body, the Codex Alimentarius, could be made simpler and more transparent, because of the launch joint review of its work by the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation and the World Health Organisation.

There is concern that with the World Trade Organisation increasingly using Codex standards for its health and safety regulations affecting food trade disputes, there is a need for governments and other interested parties to better monitor and maybe have input into the framing of Codex standards.

The FAO and the WHO will also consult widely on whether Codex's remit needs to be updated to take
into account new food safety concerns and the growing appreciation of the link "between safe food, a balanced diet and the overall health and productivity of the population."

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent