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 Commission approved new work on an international Standard for Quinoa and agreed to reactivate CCCPL to work by correspondence within the time frame allocated to the completion of the standard as presented in the Project Document i.e. four years.

The Commission also agreed to establish an electronic working group (eWG) chaired by the Plurinational State of Bolivia and co-chaired by the US, working in English and Spanish, to proceed with the development of the initial draft.

The Commission expressed its appreciation to the US and the Plurinational State of Bolivia for facilitating this work.

The main objective of the development of the standard is to:

• Establish the minimum requirements for the safety and quality of quinoa grain, which must be fulfilled regardless of the quality of the product.

• Define the categories in which the quinoa can be classified according to its size and colour.

• Include the requirements for homogeneity in package and packing methods to be considered.

• Define the information that must appear when marking and labelling the package, according to the guidelines established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

• Refer to the Codex provisions on food safety and hygiene applicable to the handling of food products

Bolivia said in its submission that the scope of the proposed CODEX Quinoa standard would include quinoa varieties, cultivars and ecotypes, the grain of which is destined for human consumption, and trade in this grain. It would not include grain for sowing or for other purposes.