The major body responsible for helping to ensure food arrives at our table in a safe and beneficial state is the Codex Alimentarius Commission. All important aspects of food, as far as protection of consumer health and fair practices in the food trade are concerned, fall under the scrutiny of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Such is its importance, the commission is said to have lifted the world community's awareness of food safety and related issues to unprecedented heights and has consequently become the single most important international reference point for developments associated with food standards (2).
Indeed, the safety and quality of the foods we eat is of international political importance also, as evidenced by the activities of the United Nations General Assembly, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), WHO (World Health Organization), all of whom encourage or commit their countries to adopt standards in line with the Codex Alimentarius Commission (the FOA and WHO jointly established the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1961-62) (2).
| It is clear the Codex Alimentarius Commission is a vital underpinning in terms of bodybuilders achieving their goals through safe, high-quality, foods.
However, its role is often unclear, with many in the bodybuilding community unaware of what it does, and, in many cases, even of its existence.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission
What Is It And What Does It Do?
Established by the FOA and WHO in 1961, the Codex Alimentarius Commission works on the premise that every person has the right to expect their food to be safe, of good quality and suitable for consumption (2).
The Codex Alimentarius Commission established the Codex Alimentarius (a food code volume containing a collection of international standards for food safety and consumer protection), which is designed to ensure an across the board reference point for food safety and quality.
Published in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish, the Codex Alimentarius officially covers all foods, whether processed, semi-processed or raw.
The specific standard in which certain foods are sold to the consumer is decided upon and published within the Codex. Also, more general standards such as food labeling, hygiene, food additives, and pesticide residues as well as guidelines for the management of governmental export and import inspection and certification of foods is contained in this document.
It is the Codex Alimentarius Commissions role to establish, and oversee, all these aspects of food safety and control in the Codex document. Documented in the Codex are:
- Milk and milk products.
- Fish and fishery products (marine, fresh water and aquiculture).
- Meat products (fresh, frozen, processed and poultry).
- Foods for special dietary uses (includes infant formula and baby food).
- Fresh and frozen fruits & vegetable and fruit juices.
- Cereals and derived products, dried legumes.
- Fats, oils and derived products such as margarine.
- Miscellaneous food products (chocolate, sugar honey, mineral water).
- Food labeling (general standard, guidelines on nutrition labeling, guidelines on labeling claims).
- Food additives (General standard including authorized uses, specifications for food grade chemicals).
- Contaminants in foods (general standard, tolerances for specific contaminants including radionuclides, aflatoxins and other mycotoxins).
- Pesticide and veterinary chemical residues in foods (maximum residue limits).
- Risk assessment procedures for determining the safety of foods derived from biotechnology (DNA-modified plants, DNA-modified micro-organisms, allergens).
- Food hygiene (general principles, codes of hygienic practice in specific industries or food handling establishments, guidelines for the use of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point or "HACCP" system).
- Methods of analysis and sampling.
As the above suggests, the Codex Alimentarius is a very important document and the Codex Alimentarius Commission an important body, for ensuring the continued quality and safety of the foods we eat.
For bodybuilders this means a continued supply of high quality foods at the highest possible standard.
However, the impact the Codex Alimentarius may have on bodybuilding community could reach much further than previously thought.
The Codex Alimentarius
The Benefits For The Bodybuilding Community
As mentioned, the Codex Alimentarius could be seen to have benefited bodybuilders due its strict emphasis on food controls.
After all, the quality of the food we eat translates into a quality physique. The following could be seen as benefits the Codex Alimentarius holds for the bodybuilding community:
- Provide a single international reference point for the safety and quality of foods: through Codex, more attention has been drawn, on an international scale, to the quality and safety of our foods.
Athletes need to know the food they eat will not result in them becoming sick due to contamination of the food, or undernourished due to inferior nutritional content.
Codex are charged with the responsibility of ensuring food is safe for human consumption. One of their objectives is to enhance consumer protection through ensuring the minimization of food-borne illnesses.
- The development of the Codex itself: due to continuing research and product development, the task of developing Codex is a mammoth, and endless, one.
The code is thought to be authoritative in its collection and evaluation of food information which translates into a set of scientifically backed standards that ensure fair practices in the sale of foods and protection of customers (2).
Negative Aspects Of The Commision
However, the Codex Alimentarius Commission is, in some circles, seen as a negative, and restrictive organization. In fact, many are skeptical as to the intentions of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and indeed, the Codex document itself (5).
Given the Codex Alimentarius Commission are charged with tightening the security measures on food, and this includes food supplements, new requirements governing how we use supplements are established, by the commission at their will, could have dire ramifications for the bodybuilding community at large.
A startling revelation has come to light recently highlighting the situation; those who use supplements are faced with: a Codex Alimentarius Commission guideline saying no dietary supplement can be sold for preventative or therapeutic purposes (5).
The Codex plan to completely restrict the use of supplements is already underway with the final step (step 8, the final stage) to take place in June 2005.
For Those Who Think This Sounds Absurd In The Extreme, Unlikely To Happen, A Fictional Invention, Need To Ponder The Following:
- Codex supplement restrictions have already been implemented in Germany with vitamin C over 200mg in strength requiring a medical prescription (3).
Also in Germany, zinc, a valuable mineral nutrient, has risen from four-dollars a bottle to $52, and Echinacea (an ancient immune enhancement herb) from $14 to $153 (both these supplements are bought on a prescription only basis in this country) (5).
In Norway similar rules apply and in both these countries a black market in supplements has emerged.
In the US, the complete ban of tryptophan by the FDA, following the uncovering of a faulty batch in the 90s may have signaled future restrictions in this industry at the hands of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
The Future Of The Commission
What's In Store?
The commissions finalized code, to come into effect in the US in June 2005, will include the following stipulations:
1: No supplement can be sold for preventative or therapeutic use.
2: Any potency higher than the listed RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance = minimal strength) is a drug requiring a prescription and must be produced by drug companies.
NOTE: Over 5000 safe items now in health stores will be banned, terminating health stores and vitamin businesses as we now know them.
3: CODEX regulations become binding internationally.
4: New supplements are banned unless given very expensive CODEX testing and approval.
Is The New Code Worth It?
Who Really Benefits?
One has to ask the question, why would an organization charged with the responsibility of ensuring the health and well-being of the consumer, restrict the availability of nutritionally beneficial supplements.
It is thought the intent behind the new codex requirements is to limit access to self care and institutionalize medicine (3). This would create profit areas for pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and clinics.
Restricting the supplement market would also allow for future pharmaceutical company profits. For example, if a supplement from established American companies became freely available on the European market, major pharmaceutical interests in these countries would stand to lose a large amount of money and the degree of control they have to supplement distributors (4).
Furthermore, the people responsible for implementing the Codex restrictions (The CODEX Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Use or CNFSDU), are pooled from the ranks of large pharmaceutical and agricultural companies and, what is possibly more disturbing, have among them no knowledgeable nutritional researchers or consumers (4).
It seems supplement users are in the hands of those with vested interests in the field of pharmaceuticals.
A Secretive Organization?
Very little about the Codex restrictions on supplements has been brought to light, and supplement users, which include to a large degree bodybuilders, are largely unaware of such a potential disaster.
The bodybuilding, and sports, industry and the general health-seeking population could find itself turning to the black market or paying exorbitant prices as a slave to the health system. Supplements have been used by millions of people for many years.
Very few of these people have become ill as a result of over-supplementing, in comparison to the thousands each year who become seriously ill, or die, from the effects of conventional medicine.
Clearly, one should be free to choose what is beneficial for them in terms of supplement use.
The implementation of codex, on the other hand, could be seen as a direct assault on ones ability to care for themselves through proper supplementation.
The bodybuilding communities are now asking themselves, what can be done?
What Can You Do?
Make Your Voice Heard
1: Spread the word as much as possible. Inform yourselves fully at:
2: Oppose bills S.722 and H.R.3377. These support the CODEX restrictions with U.S. laws, changing the DSHEA law. (See
new_us_bill_on_supplement_ingredients_proposed.htm) These bills are still "on the table" and need to be squashed.
3: Support H.R.1146 which would restore the sovereignty of the U.S. Constitution over CODEX.
4: Express your wishes to the President, Senators and Representatives ASAP. You can find them here:
5: Contact multi-level health marketing groups such as Shaklee, Quixtar. They can get their members to write their government officials.
- Answers.com.(2004). Codex Alimentarius. [Online]
- FOA/WHO.(1999). Understanding the Codex Alimentarius: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations World Health Organization. [Online]
- Leahy, P.(2005). Codex: Big Brother and the Global food supply. Government Guide. [Online]
- Milosevich, D.(1997). Explaining the Codex. Vitamin Express. [Online]
- Null, G.(1999). WARNING, Your Next Bottle of Supplements Could be Your Last. Penthouse. September, 99.>