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Food recalls

(October 2016)

A food recall is action taken to remove unsafe food from distribution, sale and consumption. All food businesses must be able to quickly remove food from the marketplace to protect public health and safety. FSANZ coordinates and monitors food recalls in Australia. In New Zealand, food recalls are coordinated by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Please note: the information below applies only within Australia.

Find out about the latest food recalls

All consumer level recalls are listed on our Current recalls web page. You can also stay informed by subscribing to our Food Recall alert, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.

For more information about food recalls see below and our FAQs for consumers and FAQs for food businesses.

Need to recall food?

If you need to recall food in Australia, you should call the FSANZ Recall Coordinator on 02 6271 2610 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or 0412 166 965 (after hours) as soon as you have identified a food recall is required.

A simple checklist, Food recall tasks and timeline for food businesses, has been created to help businesses understand their responsibilities and what needs to be done.

You will need to fill out the Food Recall Report and email it to the FSANZ Recall Coordinator (food.recalls@foodstandards.gov.au) as soon as possible.

The FSANZ recall team can help you through the process. For more information, visit our webpage on How to recall food, which explains the steps involved and provides links to useful templates.

How to prepare for a recall

FSANZ’s Food Recall Plan Template ​can help you develop your own recall plan in an easy to follow, quick reference style. This template should be used together with the Food Industry Recall Protocol, which provides more comprehensive guidance. 

FSANZ's webpage on how to recall food is a useful resource for staff training and mock recalls.

All food manufacturers, importers and wholesale suppliers must have a written food recall plan, under clause 12 of Standard 3.2.2 – Food Safety Practices and General Requirements. The plan should cover the procedures, records and staff responsibilities a business needs in place for a food recall.

All food businesses should make sure their recall plan is correct, up to date and relevant for their particular operations.

Watch our video on food recalls | Read the video transcript.

See FAQs for food businesses.

Why is food recalled?

Food is recalled because of a report or complaint from manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, government or consumers. It might also result from a food business’s own testing and auditing.

Recalls are classified according to the problem with the food. These problems can include:

  • microbial – contamination with pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites
  • labelling – non-compliant labelling, incorrect food ingredients on the ingredient list, incorrect date markings or other food labelling errors
  • foreign matter – contamination with material such as glass, metal or plastic objects
  • chemical/other contaminants – contamination with substances such as cleaning products, pesticides, machine oil, etc.
  • undeclared allergen – due to incorrect labelling, incorrect packaging or contamination of the product by an allergen
  • biotoxin – contamination with biological toxins such as histamine in fish and paralytic shellfish toxin in oysters
  • other – for example, packaging faults or unsafe levels of additives.

Types of food recalls

Food recalls can be at the trade or consumer level.

  • A consumer recall is the most extensive type, recovering the food from all points in the production and distribution chain, including from consumers.
  • A trade recall recovers food that has not been sold directly to consumers. It involves recovering the product from distribution centres and wholesalers, and may also include hospitals, restaurants or other catering establishments.

A food withdrawal is different from a food recall. It involves removing food from the supply chain where there is no public health or safety issue (e.g. if the product is underweight or has a quality defect).

 

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