The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is sponsoring a public meeting April 6 to provide information and receive public comments on agenda items and draft U.S. positions to be discussed at the 23rd session of the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems, which will take place in Australia May 1-5. Members of the public may attend this meeting in person or participate via conference call.

The CCFICS is responsible for the following.

- 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

- developing principles and guidelines for the application of measures by the competent authorities of exporting and importing countries to provide assurance, where necessary, that foodstuffs comply with requirements, especially statutory health requirements

- developing guidelines for the utilization of quality assurance systems (as and when appropriate) to ensure that foodstuffs conform with requirements and promote the recognition of these systems in facilitating trade in food products under bilateral/multilateral arrangements by countries

- 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

- making recommendations for information exchange in relation to food import/export control

- consulting as necessary with other international groups working on matters related to food inspection and certification systems

The following items on the agenda for the 23rd session of the CCFICS will be discussed during the public meeting: system comparability and equivalence, use of electronic certificates by competent authorities and migration to paperless certification, third-party certification (with broad parameters), emerging issues and future directions for the work of CCFICS, and food integrity/food authenticity as emerging issues.

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