The Department of Agriculture is sponsoring a public meeting Sept. 26 in Washington, D.C., to provide information and receive public comments on agenda items and draft U.S. positions to be discussed at the 24th session of the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems, which will take place Oct. 22-26 in Australia.

Among other things, the CCFICS is responsible for (a) developing principles and guidelines for food import and export inspection and certification systems, with a view to harmonizing methods and procedures that protect the health of consumers, ensure fair trading practices, and facilitate international trade in foodstuffs; (b) promoting the recognition of quality assurance systems in facilitating trade in food products under bilateral/multilateral arrangements by countries; (c) developing guidelines and criteria with respect to format, declarations, and language of such official certificates as countries may require with a view toward international harmonization; and (d) making recommendations for information exchange in relation to food import/export control.

Items on the agenda for the 24th session of the CCFICS that will be discussed during the Sept. 26 public meeting include paperless use of electronic certificates, regulatory approaches to third-party assurance schemes in food safety and fair practices in the food trade, and emerging issues and future directions for the work of CCFICS.

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