World accepts India-led Codex standards for pepper, cumin and thyme 

By IAC Staff

The global food standard-setting body Codex Alimentarius Commission has decided to adopt three standards for pepper, cumin and thyme — the first time spices have been included as commodities having universal standards.

The decision of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), the international food standards setting body set up by U.N food and health agencies, to adopt codex standards for pepper, cumin and thyme at its just concluded meeting in Geneva was a recognition of India’s efforts to benchmark and harmonise global spices trade, the Spices Board said.

The development could trigger the entry of more spices and herbs in the list for universal trading of safe and quality commodities in various countries, it said.

The Codex Alimentarius or “Food Code” is a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

The Commission, also known as CAC, is the central part of the joint FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) and WHO (World Health Organisation) Food Standards Programme. It was established by the two agencies to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade.

The Codex Alimentarius will pave the way for a universal agreement on identifying quality spices in various countries.

The adoption of Codex standards for the three spices will help to evolve a common standardisation process for their global trade and availability. It will ensure availability of high quality, clean and safe spices to the world.

With the adoption of Codex standards, member-nations would now have reference points and benchmarks to align their national standards for spices with Codex.

Crucial endorsement

The CAC move is considered a crucial endorsement of the India’s initiatives to usher in a common standard across the globe for spices trade.

The adoption of Codex standards by CAC must be read in the context of the efforts put in by New Delhi in arriving at a common code for spices trade. India conducted three sessions of Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) at Kochi (2014), Goa (2015) and Chennai (2017).

The Chennai session especially succeeded in achieving this consensus. Subsequently, these drafts were placed before the CAC and the member-nations adopted them by consensus.

Lauding the efforts of the officials and delegates for this major recognition of India’s initiatives to forge a universal agreement on identifying quality spices in various countries, Spices Board Chairman, Dr. Jayathilak said the Codex standards for black, white and green pepper, cumin and thyme were adopted by consensus with an overwhelming support from the member-countries of the CAC.

It was in 2013 that the need for Codex standards for spices and herbs became a matter of concern, owing to the increased level of issues in spice trade. At that time, there was no Codex committee exclusively for spices and culinary herbs.

The 36th session of CAC, which met in Rome from July 1-5, 2013, deliberated on this proposal from India, and later approved it with unanimous support of the member-countries. It heralded the creation of CCSCH, with India as the host country and Spices Board as the Secretariat. This was the first new Codex commodity committee to be approved in the past 25 years.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at


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