Issues under discussion at Codex

Below are a list of issues currently under discussion at Codex that are relevant to the Australian Seafood Industry. SafeFish welcomes any technical advice, comments or input around these issues. A comprehensive report that contains more detailed information on these issues is compiled by SafeFish every quarter, to access the most recent report please click here.

  • Methylmercury - Consideration for additional MLs for fish species other than those currently set for Tuna, Alfonso, Marlin and Shark
  • Histamine -Update on control guidance and harmonisation of commodity standards
  • Ciguatoxins -Australian working group
  • Fish Oils - Conformity around named fish oils
  • Florifenicol and Tylosin -FSANZ removes MRL in fish and fish muscle


Methylmercury–Consideration for additional MLs for other fish species

Following the recent Codex adoption of maximum levels (MLs) for methylmercury in selected tunas, alfonsino, marlin and shark, CCCF have established an electronic working group to prepare a discussion paper on the establishment of MLs for methylmercury for additional fish species. The discussion paper will identify the fish species for which MLs might be established and proposed MLs for these species. Please contact the SafeFish Secretariat if you would like to be kept informed or be involved in these developments.

Histamine GuidanceHistamine control guidance and harmonisation of commodity standards

An electronic working group for the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) have finished reviewing the histamine hygiene and sampling plans sections within the relevant seafood Commodity Standards and have considered how the recently adopted histamine control guidance could be included in the Code of Practice for Fish and Fishery Products.

In October 2018, SafeFish provided a submission to Codex Australia supporting the recommendation that the guidance should be located directly after Section 9 in the Code of Practice for Fish and Fishery Products. SafeFish also recommended that the existing histamine decomposition levels should be reviewed prior to progressing the current revisions, as there is concern that the histamine decomposition provisions are a source of confusion, do not necessary correlative to other decomposition attributes (i.e. odour), and could become pseudo maximum levels. SafeFish maintains that the existing 200mg/kg food safety provision provides the necessary level of protection for public health. A number of delegations are likely to be concerned that the proposed minimum sampling plan will be too onerous. SafeFish will provide an update on this issue when more information becomes available.

Ciguatoxins –Australian Working Group

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee for Food Additives (JECFA) released an international call for data on ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) to conduct an international risk assessment. To ensure that the outcome of the FAO/WHO risk assessment is topical to Australia, SafeFish established an Australian working group on CFP in May 2018, encompassing representatives from State health departments, researchers and regulators.

The working group collated and submitted all available Australian ciguatera-related data to the FAO/WHO. Members expressed great interest in continuing to work through SafeFish beyond the FAO/WHO call for data to build a strong Australian ciguatera network. 

An Australian ciguatera workshop with invited international experts was identified as a vital first step to develop Australian research programs and coordinate strategic access to funding sources (both national and international). The SafeFish board recognised the workshop as a priority, and has provided funding to host international experts and conduct the workshop in Brisbane in April 2019. For more information, please contact the workshop coordinator, Dr. Andreas Seger.

Fish Oils – Conformity around named fish oils

In August 2017 the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils (CCFO) invited comments regarding any monitoring of the Standard for Fish Oils (Codex Stan 329-2017) with respect to the conformity of named fish oils with the requirements (especially the fatty acid profile), and its effect on trade. In August 2017 SafeFish informed TSGA and NuMega of the call for information.

Florfenicol and Tylosin - FSANZ removes MRL in Fish and Fish Muscle

On August 23, 2018, FSANZ removed the temporary MRL for florfenicol and Tylosin in fish and fish muscle respectively. Following the announcement SafeFish immediately notified several aquatic veterinarians, feed companies and finfish aquaculture operations or associations.