Since 1962, the Codex Alimentarius Commission has implemented the Food Standards Programme developed jointly by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the FAO.

Now, however, the programme is undergoing an in-depth independent evaluation to enable it to meet the needs of the world's people and promote a global food supply more effectively, and the WHO is asking for public comment on the issue, to be received by 13 May 2002.

The evaluation, which was launched last month and is due to be completed early 2003, will examine the respective requirements of producers, industry, traders, consumers and regulators. It aims to offer recommendations for the future on the relevance of standards, or alternative means to meet the overall objectives of ensuring consumer protection and fair practices for food trade, in both developed and developing countries.

The WHO said that the programme's importance has gradually shifted since 1962, from providing a basis for national standards to providing the point of reference in standards, guidelines and codes of practice for international trade.

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