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In a major recognition of efforts by India for benchmarking international spices trade, global standards setting body Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) has accepted three Codex standards for white, green and black pepper, thyme and cumin, setting a course for universal agreement for identifying quality spices in different countries.  

The member-nations of CAC, which held the 40th session meeting during July 17-22 in Geneva, unanimously agreed on the adoption of Codex standards for the given three spices that would facilitate in setting up of a common process for standardisation of spices for their availability and global trade. 

“The Codex standards were adopted in the wake of India conducting three sessions of Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) at Kochi (2014), Goa (2015) and Chennai (2017). The Chennai session succeeded in achieving this consensus. Subsequently, these drafts were placed before the CAC, and it was adopted by consensus with an overwhelming support from the member-countries,” said an official statement. 

With the standardisation of pepper, thyme and cumin, this is the first time that spices as commodities will have universal standards. 

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “The adoption of the Codex standards would imply that there are now reference points and benchmarks for the member-countries to align their national standards for spices with Codex.” 

This will bring harmony to the international trade of spices by ensuring availability of good quality, safe and clean spices globally, she said. 

Besides, this will benefit the global spice trade from universal agreement for identifying high quality spices, she added. 
Sitharaman further stated that this may be a small start keeping in view the number of commodities which are line to be adopted for the process of standardisation. 

“But what is really heartening is that spices have made a definitive entry into the league of commodities having Codex standards, and India played a key role in achieving this objective,” she said. 

The Codex Alimentarius is a collection of guidelines, standards and codes for practice adopted by the CAC, which is a vital part of the joint Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) Food Standards Programme. CAC was established by WHO and FAO for protecting the consumers health and for promoting fair food trade practices. Codex standards signifies that the food is safe and of high quality, and can be traded.