The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The main purposes of this programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, by setting international standards and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations for acceptance.
These usually relate to product characteristics and may deal with all government regulated characteristics appropriate to the commodity, or only one characteristic. Maximum residue limits (MRLs) for residues of pesticides or veterinary drugs in foods are examples of standards dealing with only one characteristic. The Codex General Standard for the labelling of Prepackaged Foods covers all foods in this category. Because standards relate to product characteristics, they can be applied wherever the products are traded.
Codex principles covers:
Addition of essential nutrients to foods;
Food import and export inspection and certification;
Establishment and application of microbiological criteria for foods;