In 1962, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex Alimentarius or Codex) was formed under the joint sponsorship of two United Nations (UN) organizations: the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Codex Alimentarius serves as an guideline to food safety – download a copy of the Codex here.
Today the 165 countries worldwide that comprise Codex hold two major food-related goals: (1) to protect the health of consumers, and (2) to assure fair practices in food trade. The two parent organizations (FAO and WHO) provide funding for a Secretariat and for organizational support services. The Food and Agriculture Organization is responsible for two-thirds of the funding, with WHO responsible for the other one-third of funds for the Codex Commission. In recent years, contributions by FAO have exceeded 80%.
Codex is a government-to-government organization that conducts its business through a network of committees. Each Codex committee is hosted by an agreed-to-government that is responsible for the operation costs of each committee. Funding for the Codex Commission itself, and its Executive Committee, is the responsibility of the Secretariat. Under this funding agreement, a very efficient system has been established to effectively control the number of meetings required by a committee, which further prevents Codex committees from continuing into perpetuity (unlike many other organizations in the UN system). Expert technical work of Codex and its committees is supported by Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committees (JECFA) and specifically established working groups (e.g., the Working Group on Pesticide Residues). There are identified permanent committees as well as others established on an ad hoc basis as needed.