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Tenth Session of Codex Committee on Meat Hygiene

Tenth Session of Codex Committee on Meat Hygiene

It is a real pleasure to open the Tenth Session of the Codex Committee on Meat and Poultry Hygiene, and to welcome the overseas delegates to our country. It is an honour for New Zealand to host this event, and I am sure it will be a productive and useful few days for all of you.

I would also like to acknowledge Dr Andrew McKenzie, the chair of the committee, who I am sure is looking forward to today.

As a producer and exporter of food, New Zealand considers the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its subsidiary bodies to be extremely important, from both a food safety and an international trade perspective.

The Codex Committee on Meat Hygiene is particularly significant for New Zealand because of the vital role that animal products play in our economy. We are delighted to contribute to the development of sound, science-based international standards for meat.

I am particularly impressed with the progress this committee has made since 2002.

With the completion and adoption of the General Principles of Meat Hygiene, the focus of the committee has clearly moved to the advancement of the Code of Hygienic Practice for Meat.

I see both of these documents as being critical to meeting the objectives of food safety and promoting fair practices in international trade. The progress made by the committee is in no small measure due to the hard work, commitment and dedication that you have all shown over the last few years, and I thank you for that.

I am also pleased with the progress being made with implementing the recommendations of the Joint FAO/WHO Evaluation of Codex. The Evaluation Report made important recommendations which were aimed at making Codex structures and processes more efficient and responsive to the needs of members.

I know that members of Codex have been concerned about the length of time it takes to advance standards within the Codex system, and the sheer volume of meetings. I hope the planned review of committee structures and working procedures will address some of the systemic issues so that we can move ahead with reform.

I would also like to acknowledge progress in implementing recommendations relating to strengthening the science underpinning international standards development. This is important to instill greater confidence in international standards and to promote their widest possible use by all member countries.

New Zealand also welcomes efforts to facilitate the participation of all members in the work of Codex. I will continue to take a close interest in the implementation of the Evaluation recommendations. 2

In New Zealand we look forward to playing our part in helping to implement these reforms to strengthen Codex's role as the pre-eminent international standards body for food safety.

Your work on this committee is clearly defined, with a focus on public health. But there is now a pressing need - in light of BSE and the current issue of Avian flu - to improve the interface between Codex and the international animal health standards body, OIE, in relation to standards where there is an overlapping interest regarding the production and processing of animals through the food continuum.

It is clear that for countries with veterinary administrations, there is a duality of objectives in meat hygiene concerning both animal and public health objectives.

Finally, I want to sincerely thank all member countries for their support in advancing the work of the Committee. I am told that you have a heavy schedule of business to get through this week, and I wish you well in your deliberations.

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