UN strengthens regulations on food labelling

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The United Nations food standards body has agreed on new food safety standards aimed at protecting the health of consumers around the world.

The new standards  include the maximum level of melamine in liquid milk formula for babies, standards for the storage of pre-cut melons and nutrition labeling for all food stuffs.

Patrick Maigua reports from Geneva.

The new regulations were agreed to during a meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which sets international food safety and quality standards. Melamine has been used illegally to increase protein content in food products including infant formula and milk powder. In 2008 several children died in China after consuming infant formula laced with melamine. The Commission has now reduced the maximum limit of melamine in liquid infant milk to 0.15 mg per kg from 1 mg/kg set two years ago. The commission says the new limit will enable authorities differentiate between accidental or deliberate contamination. Melons are popular fruits during the summer months, however when handled un-hygienically melon slices can easily become a breeding ground for life threatening bacteria such as salmonella. The commission is recommending that all pre-cut melons be packaged and refrigerated as soon as possible and distributed at temperatures of 4 degrees Centigrade or less. Knife blades used for cutting or peeling the melons should be disinfected on a regular basis. In a bid to promote healthy eating worldwide Codex has recommended that food manufacturers clearly label the nutritional content on their products to ensure that consumers are better informed. The commission has also set out new recommendations for the storage of dried fruits, nuts, spices and cereals to avoid fungal contamination. The Codex Alimentarius Commission, jointly run by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).  (Duration: 1’46″)

Patrick Maigua United Nations Radio.

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