Industry Insensitivity to Health Drives Codex Agenda
By Scott C. Tips
President of the National Health Federation
The hazy, smoggy skies over Beijing during these March days are emblematic of the Codex meetings that the National Health Federation (NHF) has been attending for many days here in China. The Sun only shimmers as a strange, pale orange globe, casting an ethereal, almost futuristic “Bladerunner” look to the cityscape while city residents glide silently past with white face masks and we Codex delegates and staff work inside overheated rooms on international food-additive standards. Given what has transpired, the setting seems apt.
Throughout the week of March 18-22, 2013, the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA) met at the Asia Hotel in Beijing, China, chaired by Dr. Junshi Chen of the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, to consider hundreds of food additives, some of which are innocuous, even healthful, others of which are most decidedly toxic. The problem is that many of the Codex delegates cannot discern the difference between the two, the haziness of their thinking working in some sort of bizarre parallel to the opaque weather outdoors.
As the only consumer group present at this meeting, and the working group that preceded it, the NHF offered a unique perspective on what its members consider healthful and what it does not. To us, aluminum-containing food additives and aspartame are self-evidently toxic and should be removed from the food supply. However, to the trade organizations here, and their foot servants in too many of the regulatory agencies that sit in as the country-member Codex delegates here, such food additives are simply vehicles of manufacturing convenience and health be damned. In fact, I rather suspect that had these same businesses been manufacturing leaden drinking vessels during the heyday of the Roman Empire, then they would have similarly defended such vessels’ use as vital and indispensable tools of commerce, no matter that the users were slowly being poisoned by the deadly, leaching lead.