FAO and WHO convened an Expert Meeting on 19–21 October 2007 to consider how to adequately address the extensive request for scientific advice received from the 38th Session of the Codex
Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) on the microbiological hazards associated with fresh product (see Annex 1). Given the extent of that request, the primary purpose of the meeting was to use all available information—including that submitted by countries in response to a call for data and a circular letter distributed by Codex—to establish the priority commodities of concern and provide some guidance to FAO and WHO as to how these could be addressed.
The meeting agreed to a set of six criteria, which it used to rank the commodities of concern as identified by the last session of the CCFH and by member countries. The criteria were:
• Frequency and severity of disease.
• Size and scope of production.
• Diversity and complexity of the production chain and industry.
• Potential for amplification of foodborne pathogens through the food chain.
• Potential for control.
• Extent of international trade and economic impact.
The information available was reviewed in the light of these criteria, which enabled the identified commodities to be ranked into the following three priority groupings: level 1 priorities: leafy green vegetables, level 2 priorities: berries, green onions, melons, sprouted seeds, tomatoes, level 3 priorities: the largest group, including carrots, cucumbers, almonds, baby corn, sesame seeds, onions, garlic, mango, paw paw, celery, and mai mai