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Tolerance Limits and Methodology: Effect on International Trade

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Microbiological contamination of foods with Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., and other pathogens and toxins and chemical and environmental contaminants can cause serious health and trade problems in the international trade of foods. Consequently, a system of monitoring and surveillance of the quality and safety of imported foods can have a significant impact on food trade between two or more countries. The World Trade Organization (WTO) provides a framework for ensuring fair trade and harmonizing standards and import requirements on foods traded, through the Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade. Countries are required to base their standards on science, to base programs on risk analysis methodologies, and to develop ways of achieving equivalence between methods of inspection, analysis, and certification between trading countries. To facilitate the harmonization of standards the WTO recommends the use of standards, guidelines, and recommendations developed by the Codex Alimentarius. Other international cooperative measures with the objective of assisting trade include the accreditation of laboratories that conform to international standards and the work of the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification on equivalency and harmonization.

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Food and Nutrition Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100, Rome, Italy

Publication date: November 1, 1998

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