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International CODEX Quinoa
Standard in the making

Intelnational Codex for Quinoa in the making

by Steven Nyland, OrganicCrops. Posted on 8 October 2015, 09:51 hrs

Work on a new globally accepted standard is set to commence for the versatile Andean grain quinoa, which is known for its high nutritional content, after the US and Bolivia gained the go ahead to develop a new international standard, which is expected to take four years or less.

The Final Report of the 38th Session of international food standards body, the CODEX ALIMENTARIUS Commission, was published in early July, with 38 standards adopted. Codex Alimentarius international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice contribute to the safety, quality and fairness of international food trade and while voluntary, are often adopted for countries’ national legislation.

Reactivated was the Committee on Cereal, Pulses and Legumes, hosted by the United States, to start new work on a “Standard for Quinoa”, Codex advised in late July after the 38th Session held in Geneva, Switzerland, proposed by the Committee on Cereals, Pulses and Legumes.

The Codex standard for quinoa would establish requirements for processed (treated) quinoa grain intended for trade. It would include quinoa varieties, cultivars and ecotypes, the grain of which would be destined for human consumption, but it would not include grain for sowing or other purposes.

Minimum requirements for safety and quality would be established under the standard as well as definitions pertaining to how quinoa would be classified based on its size and color. Other requirements would be homogeneity in package and packing methods and information that must appear when marking and labeling a package.

More than 82% of the world quinoa exports come from members of the Latin American Integration Association, in particular the Andean countries of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, according to the National Codex Committee of Bolivia. Importing countries include the United States, Canada, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Brazil, Denmark, Malaysia, Italy, Japan, Spain, Israel, Singapore and Switzerland.

The Codex standard for quinoa should take smallholder traditional growers into account, said Sergio Nuñez de Arco, a quinoa specialist for Andean Naturals, a U.S. importer of quinoa. While agro-industrial companies produce quinoa on irrigated lands and pull in 3,000 to 4,000 kilograms (about 6,600 to 8,800 lbs) per hectare, a traditional smallholder farmer depends on rainfall and produces 800 kilograms on average ever two years, he said.

“Codex’s initiative on setting standards for quinoa is both important and timely,” he said. “Important as it has the potential to not only set much needed standards for quality, but also to protect the traditional smallholder growers so they can coexist with large private agro-industrial producers in the new era of commoditized quinoa.” MBN


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OrganicCrops is an agricultural trading company from Huanuco, Peru that specializes in cultivation, marketing and exporting organic products such as Quinoa, Maca and Cacao.