This paper deals with the creation of global principle-based standards. For such standards to be accepted and effective, particular conditions must be fulfilled. One such condition, little explored, is that standard-makers and -takers share knowledge about the meaning of the principles, as well as the practices through which they are likely to be applied. The paper shows that this condition is fulfilled when transnational cultural systems exist, by means of which both types of actors engage in the explication and representation of their practices so that a common, standard understanding emerges of how principles may be interpreted on the ground and informs the negotiations. A transnational cultural system is a crucial governance infrastructure to set global standards, as shown by the long history of creating a risk analysis guideline by the Codex Alimentarius, the inter-governmental body for food standards.