Participants at the Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting, which ends on 7 July in Geneva, plan to adopt proposals that would set standards aimed at helping international food trade by eliminating many of what the UN calls "unjustified technical barriers" set up by some countries.
The Codex Alimentarius is a joint venture of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO).
Participants are considering issues such as the maximum limit for lead in fish and cadmium in rice, marine bivalve molluscs and cephalopods.
Measures to prevent the contamination of Brazil nuts with cancer-causing aflatoxins are also being discussed along with methods to prevent and reduce dioxin and dioxin-like PCB contamination in food and feeds.
"Some topics on the agenda are likely to cause intense debate such as the establishment of a task force on antibiotic resistance in bacteria, a potential threat to human health," the UN stated in a press release. "The incorrect use of antibiotics in animals can lead to drug resistance in infections in humans who eat their meat."
A committee dealing with the topic is in the process of developing a risk assessment policy and strategies to reduce food safety risks associated with antibiotics use.
Codex Alimentarius standards form the basis of food legislation in many countries and are recognised as international benchmarks by one of the multilateral agreements of the UN World Trade Organization (WTO).