Food Regulations International Codex Alimentarius

International food regulations govern the import and export of both raw agricultural commodities and processed food products to ensure food safety, control unwanted release of exotic species of plants and animals, and limit the spread of both plant and animal diseases. International food regulations also include standards for trade, including units of measure and minimum quality standards.

Until recently, there were essentially no unified international food regulations. Each nation negotiated with specific trading partners in cooperative agreements. This was a process driven by the standards of the importing country, since the exporter was responsible for ensuring that the product in question complied with the regulations of the importing country. Because national food regulations varied widely from nation to nation, this proved to be an inefficient process. This process also allowed countries to use food regulations as de facto barriers to foreign competition. Although there are still no legally binding international food regulations, increasing international trade and broadening participation under the World Trade Organization (WTO) is now forcing a rapid harmonization of international standards. A set of unified international food standards has emerged, with the force of the world's largest international trade organization behind it. More importantly, the WTO has established a process for the adoption of future standards, as well as for settling trade disputes involving food standards.

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