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FAQs about food recalls for consumers

Food recalls

What is a food recall?

A food recall is action taken to remove unsafe (or potentially unsafe) food from distribution, sale and consumption. If a product is recalled, consumers are generally advised to not eat or drink it, and to either return it for a refund or throw it out. Most recalls are initiated by the food business. Only Australian states and territories and the Ministry for Primary Industries have enforcement powers. These jurisidictions have the power to mandate a recall if necessary. FSANZ has no enforcement powers so cannot mandate, order or force a recall to occur. FSANZ coordinates the recall with the relevant jurisdiction and the food business. For more information on how food is recalled in Australia, see the food recalls webpage.

How do I find out if a food recall has occurred?

Recalls for products that have reached consumers are published on our current recalls webpage and on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Businesses recalling food should also inform consumers through a newspaper advertisement, a press release to news media outlets, a notice in the store where the product has been sold, their website and/or social media accounts. Information on recalls that need urgent consumer action may also be issued by a media release from FSANZ, the federal Department of Health or a state or territory health department. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also publish recall information on their website, iPhone app and Facebook account.

How do I tell if I have a recalled food product?

Recall notices include identifying details of the product such as its name, brand, size, packaging details, Use By/Best Before dates and batch or lot codes. You can compare the product in your home with the details provided in the recall notice to see if you have a recalled product. If your product’s size, Use By/Best Before date or batch code is different, then your product may not be the one being recalled. If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact the company by using the contact details provided on the recall notice.

What do I do if I have a recalled food product?

If you are sure that you have a recalled food product at home, do not consume it. You may choose to throw it out, or take it back to where you bought it for a full refund. Most companies recalling food will offer a full refund at the place of purchase. If you are not offered a refund and believe you are entitled to one, you can contact the company using details supplied in the recall notice. If you still do not receive a refund, you may wish to contact the ACCC on 1300 302 502.

What do I do if I think I have consumed a recalled food product? 

It is important to seek early medical attention if you are feeling unwell and suspect you have consumed a food product that has been recalled. You may wish to tell the doctor about the recalled product.

What do I do if I have contacted the company responsible for the recalled food product, but am not happy with their response?

If you’ve contacted the company with a reasonable question or request and believe you were not taken seriously or are not happy with their response, you can make a complaint to the food regulatory authority in the same state as the company’s head office. For example, if the company is located in NSW, you may wish to make a complaint to the NSW Food Authority about that company. See list of food enforcement contacts.

I don't understand why a food has been recalled. Who can explain it to me?

Foods can be recalled for a variety of reasons, but generally it’s because there is a concern for public health and safety. If you are confused about why a company is recalling a food, you can contact them from the details given in the recall notice. If you have further questions, feel free to phone FSANZ's food recall coordinator on 02 6271 2610 (between 9am to 5pm, weekdays)

Food complaints

How do I make a complaint about a food?

If you wish to make a complaint about a food product, contact your local food enforcement agency.
Problems with food can include things like foreign material (e.g. a bit of glass or plastic) found in food or you might believe some food has made you sick.

What should I do if I suspect a problem about a food?

If you think there’s something wrong with a food product, do not consume it. Report the problem to your local food enforcement contact. They will need to know details of the product including its brand name, manufacturer, size, package type, codes and dates, and exactly where you bought it.

Remember to keep the original container or packaging and, if relevant, the foreign object you found in the food. Refrigerate any uneaten portion of the food so it can be tested by authorities if needed.

What should I do if I fall ill from consuming a food?

It is important to seek early medical attention if you or someone under your care gets sick. Food poisoning can be particularly serious in children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems (e.g. cancer patients). Tell your doctor if you think the illness is related to food you have eaten.

Food poisoning symptoms like cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea may not appear for many hours or even days after you have eaten the food that makes you ill. This is because the microorganisms in the food may take a while to grow to high enough numbers to cause the illness. Often the last meal you ate is not to blame.

What happens with complaints about unsafe food?

Food complaints are investigated by state and territory authorities or your local council, because these agencies are responsible for enforcing the Food Standards Code.
Food that may pose a health and safety risk is removed from the food supply as quickly as possible through a food recall. See our food recalls webpage for more details.

​Food recalls in 2017

2017 food recalls infographic


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