The Council of the European Union has hit out at Codex Alimentarius over its decision to set maximum residue levels of ractopamine in beef and pork because the decision was made by a slim majority of two votes.
The council says that Codex standards should be set by consensus rather than a slim majority, because consensus is "a fundamental principal of the organisation".
By ignoring this principle, the European Council believes that Codex has undermined the credibility and the potential for universal acceptance of its standards.
The council said that Codex Alimentarius is a risk management body that should take into account all relevant factors relating to the risk to human health through the food chain.
The European Council has stressed that the use of veterinary drugs as growth promoters is banned in the EU as is the import of meat that has been reared using growth promoters.
The council added: "The policy of the European Union towards ractopamine is based on persisting scientific uncertainty about the safety of products derived from animals treated with this substance, in line with the EFSA opinion of 2009, and also takes into account concerns on animal health and animal welfare that are widely felt among its Member States."
And it has confirmed its decision to keep its ban on beta-agonists including their use as growth promoters and the import of any meat that come from animals that have been treated with growth promoters such as ractopamine.
The council has now called on the European Commission to ensure that any country in which growth promoters such as ractopamine are used has a dual system to allow ractopamine-free production of meat intended for export to the EU and also to ensure that the Food and Veterinary Office continues to prioritise the auditing of and control measures in countries that are exporting to the EU.
The European Council has also urged member states in the EU to develop analytical methods to ensure they can trace ractopamine in meat.
And it has called for careful analysis to be carried out together with the European Commission to ensure that the consensus based approach to food safety is maintained within Codex Alimentarius.
"To ensure that international food standards promote a high level of protection of consumers' health and fair practices in the food trade, a strategic line of action should be followed by the European Union and its Member States, with the aim of strengthening their influence on the work of Codex Alimentarius," the European Council has said.
It has called for raising awareness about the importance of adopting international standards by Codex and also to put in place ways to better provide data to international risk assessment bodies.
The European Council wants to see more co-operation between the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN and the World Health Organisation and other independent risk assessment bodies.
It has called for more experts on the Codex committees and better ways of identifying sensitive issues and discussing them before decisions are taken including liaising with European states which are not members of the EU to develop shared positions.
It also believes that discussions should take place with Third Countries on controversial issues before they come to the Codex committees or to the European Commission so that the EU's stance can be spelt out and more support can be obtained.
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