Appendix E: Draft CODEX principles for imported food control guidelines

The following principles for imported food control guidelines have been presented to the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems (CCFICS) at its fifth (1997) and sixth (1998) sessions. As yet, the Committee has not made a decision to progress the development of a guideline through the Codex steps. However, a draft guideline paper will be considered at the next session of CCFICS. The principles are based on the "Principles for Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification" (CAC/GL 20-1995) and are focussed on imported food specifically. Incorporation of these principles into a guideline would provide a basis for the development of import inspection systems consistent with the "Principles for Food Import and Export Certification and Inspection" (CAC/GL 20-1995).


1. Parity with domestic controls
Imported food standards and application of those standards cannot be more rigorous than domestic controls, while acknowledging that domestic production allows some scope for "in process" control.

2. Clearly defined authority conducting control
Clear legal basis for control. If more than one agency is involved with pre-clearance, border clearance, or point of sale inspection of imported food products, the responsibilities and authorities must be clearly defined.

3. Consistently implemented system
Imports should be controlled consistently at each entry point. If the same standards and procedures are not used at each port, an imported food control program is in danger of fragmenting with some ports allowing easy passage of higher risk foods.

4. Recognition of food safety controls in exporting country
Imported food inspection systems should include the capacity to recognise controls implemented in exporting countries where those control provide the same degree of protection expected domestically. Acceptance may include certification or other mutual recognition agreements.

5. Transparent system with documented procedures and standards
Details of controls should be written and published in a manner which allows simple access and use of the documentation according to need. The standards and procedures should be flexible enough to deal with short term unforeseen (scientifically proven) threats to food safety, and allowing importation of material for further processing that may be hazardous in its raw state.

6. Application of risk assessment
No control system can effectively inspect all food. Allocate resources according to risk.

7. Adhere to the CODEX "Code of Ethics for International Trade in Food"
For example, if food is rejected, the next prospective buyers (ie, country) and the exporting country authorities should be informed. The exchange of information should follow the format stipulated in the "Guidelines for the exchange of information between countries on rejections of imported food", Alinorm 97/30

Last reviewed:
23 Apr 2007