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FAQs for food businesses

Do I need a recall plan?

All food manufacturers, importers and wholesale suppliers must have a written food recall plan in place to ensure unsafe food can be quickly removed from the food supply chain. This is a requirement under Standard 3.2.2 – Food Safety Practices and General Requirements. The plan should specify the procedures, staff responsibilities and records needed as part of the business’s recall system.

I don't have a recall plan - how do I develop one?

If a food business does not have a recall plan, FSANZ’s simple Food Recall Plan Template​ ​ can help develop one. This template should be used alongside the Food Industry Recall Protocol, which provides more detailed guidance. Food businesses should make sure their recall plan is correct, up to date and relevant for their particular operations.

How and when should I start a food recall?

If a business needs to recall food, or is unsure, it’s recommended that they first contact their local state or territory food enforcement agency (the ‘home state’). They may confirm a recall is needed or may suggest other action. If the home state can’t be reached and the matter is urgent, businesses can call the FSANZ Recall Coordinator on (02) 62712610.

Our webpage on how to recall food explains the steps involved in proceeding with a recall, including helpful phone numbers and templates.

Businesses should follow their recall plan. As a start, some staff could be organised to begin contacting all the direct customers with instructions to remove the product from sale, while another staff member could contact FSANZ to begin the notification process for government agencies. Businesses may wish to use a consultant to help with the recall.

How and when should I notify FSANZ of a recall?

FSANZ's recall Coordinator should be notified immediately after speaking to the home state and deciding that recall action is needed. Recalls can take some time to complete, so it’s important not to delay.

To coordinate the recall as quickly and efficiently as possible FSANZ will need the following information from the business undertaking the recall:

  1. Identifying information about the product being recalled, including the name exactly as it appears on the packaging and the date marking and/or batch codes
  2. An image or label of the product
  3. A distribution list of all direct customers, including each business’s name, full address, contact person and phone number
  4. A draft press advertisement or point-of-sale notice (FSANZ can help you with this) – these should be prepared using a particular template and emailed as a word document to FSANZ to check before being sent to newspapers.

Templates for the items above can be found on FSANZ's how to recall food web page

    When should I notify my direct customers?

    It is the responsibility of the food business to notify all direct customers of the recall and provide them with the recall information. This should be done at the same time as, or immediately after, speaking with the FSANZ Recall Coordinator.

    What's the best way to notify the public of a recall?

    It’s essential that the public are made aware of the recall if it is a consumer level recall, because the food may pose a risk to public health and safety. Businesses should consider what form of publicity to use and how the media will be informed. A press advertisement (print and/or radio) is usually the best way to reach many consumers and should be placed in all states and territories where the food product was available for sale.

    FSANZ also recommends the use of point-of-sale notices in stores, website announcements and social media notifications (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) to ensure as many people as possible can be informed of the recall. If immediate communication with the public is required (e.g. if there is a very high risk to consumers or there will be a delay in the paid advertisement being published), a media release may be needed. Templates are available on FSANZ's how to recall food web page. FSANZ's recall coordinator can also provide help.

    FSANZ also notifies the public of consumer level recalls through notices placed on our website at www.foodstandards.gov.au, by emails sent through the food recall alert subscription service and through Facebook and Twitter posts.

    When should I book space in newspapers for an advertisement?

    It is important that advertising space is booked with the newspapers as soon as possible. This enables the recall notice to be placed in the next available space. Each publication will advise you of when the final copy of the press advertisement needs to be provided to them.

    How big does the advertisement need to be?

    The press advertisement needs to be 12 cm tall and 3 newspaper columns wide with a minimum 10 point text. The heading ‘Food Recall’ should be larger, with a minimum size of 14 point text.

    Why does FSANZ need to approve the final advertisement?

    Before press advertisements are sent to newspapers, FSANZ needs to approve the final copy in consultation with the home state. FSANZ checks that all relevant information has been included, that it meets the minimum requirements and that consumers will be able to understand the information and preferred language has been used.

    A template for press advertisements is available. This template uses subheadings recommended by the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to be as clear as possible for consumers. As per the ACCC guidelines, the term ‘voluntary’ should not be included in recall information. FSANZ sends a copy of the final press advertisement to stakeholders in government and industry as part of the official recall notification.

    Why can’t I use the word ‘voluntary’ in my recall communication?

    The term ‘voluntary recall’ has previously confused retailers and consumers – some people thought it meant that it was voluntary for them to do anything with the recalled food. FSANZ no longer uses this term in any official recall documentation.

    Why does FSANZ need an image and so many other details about the product?

    FSANZ requires an image and detailed product information to clearly identify exactly which product is being recalled. This information will be used in all FSANZ recall documentation including the official notification, emails to stakeholders and the FSANZ website and social media posts.

    Why does FSANZ need a distribution list?

    FSANZ needs a distribution list when a product has gone to more than one retail outlet (for example, more than one supermarket or supermarket chain). FSANZ circulates this list to let the state and territory government agencies and local councils know how widely the recalled food has been distributed and to enable them to check if the product has been removed from the shelves. The distribution list may also be sent to industry members on FSANZ’s contact list. This helps identify all the businesses that have received the recalled product and enables product to be quickly removed from the supply chain. The company leading the recall (the sponsor) is still responsible for directly notifying all their customers of the recall in a timely manner.

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