Managing Product crisis, Recalls and Withdrawals

The protection of the health and safety of consumers is a fundamental requirement and a legal obligation of all companies involved in the production and sale of food and grocery products. Suppliers and retailers must take every precaution to ensure products are safe, of the highest quality, and that labelling information assists consumers in making an informed choice. However, on rare occasions, problems sometimes occur which require the recall or withdrawal of products which fail to meet these requirements.

While the supplier has absolute responsibility for the safety of its products, the removal of the product from the marketplace is a shared responsibility throughout the distribution chain. Recalls which are not handled correctly can place consumers at risk, impose large and unnecessary costs on the companies involved and leave them liable to legal action.

The following tools are available to assist in managing product safety concerns:

The AFGC Crisis Management Guide has been developed to assist companies in developing their own specific crisis management plans and integrated recall plans.

The notification of recalls and withdrawals with key trade partners and regulators is an essential element of any integrated recall plan. In the first instance it is essential that a verbal dialogue takes place with the impacted trade partners and State Authority / FSANZ. The method of formal notification of recalls and withdrawals is a decision determined by the recipients, options available include:

  • ECRA Product Recall / Withdrawal Form 
    - ingredient suppliers, food manufacturers, wholesalers, and importers can initiate recall and withdrawal notifications by completing a paper based standardised form and issuing to impacted trade partners by facsimile or email.
  • GS1 Recallnet- ingredient suppliers, food manufacturers, wholesalers, and importers can initiate recall and withdrawal notifications online via a secure dedicated web portal powered by GS1 Australia, a not-for-profit organisation. Those wishing to use GS1 Recallnet will need to pre-register and pay an annual subscription. AFGC encourages its members to consider participating in the GS1Recallnet service. 

While most recalls are a relatively simple in business-to-business relationships, with the manufacturer or wholesaler communicating with retail distributors, on occasion the product being recalled may impact on a complex range of products and services.  Such circumstances may include the recall of ingredients or additives used widely across the food industry.  In such circumstances the AFGC can provide assistance in with industry communications, briefings and teleconferencing, coordinating with regulators and providing a whole-of-industry response to media concerns and interest.  For further advice about how the AFGC may be able to assist in the event of a complex food recall, contact AFGC on 02 6273 1466.