[ Codex Alimentarius ]
A collection of standards relating to safety and fairness in the food industries, including dietary supplements, such as vitamins and minerals. It is maintained by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, established in 1961 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
The Commission’s mandate is to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade, internationally. The Codex is referenced by the World Trade Organisation (WHO) for the resolution of disputes concerning food safety and consumer protection.
There is controversy over the use of the Codex by the WHO for dispute resolution as constituting mandatory standard. This controversy is underscored by a German delegation putting forward a proposal (1996) that no herb, vitamin or mineral should be sold for preventive or therapeutic reasons, and that supplements should be reclassified as drugs. Protests halted its implementation, but debate continues amidst the Commission on-going expansion and refinement of its guidelines regarding nutritional supplements.