Australian food businesses urged to update food recall plans as new FSANZ protocol launched

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 10th March 2009

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has today launched an updated version of the protocol for conducting a recall – ‘Food Industry Recall Protocol: a Guide to Writing a Food Recall Plan and Conducting a Food Recall’ – to assist food manufacturers in the quest for improved food safety.

“The national system for managing food recalls in Australia relies heavily on food businesses having appropriate plans in place to respond quickly and effectively to food safety and related issues,” Steve McCutcheon, FSANZ’s Chief Executive Officer, said. “Each year, there are 50 to 60 food recalls in Australia in response to potential food safety issues. In addition, food businesses themselves initiate withdrawals of products for a range of reasons.”

“I urge all food businesses to get a copy of this protocol from the FSANZ website as you never know when something could go wrong with the food you produce. It is full of useful tips about how to conduct a recall or withdrawal including an updated attachment detailing what information should be included in press advertisements.”

“The FSANZ website has a downloadable press advertisement template to help affected businesses,” he added. “FSANZ also offers a 24 hour a day seven days a week recall emergency contact to help food businesses with after hours recalls.”

The updated recall protocol incorporates:

* a new section to describe the roles and responsibilities of food retailers during a food recall
* a requirement for food businesses conducting the recall to provide a list of the types of premises or stores likely to carry the food product, as well as the distribution lists, to assist with the recall process
* a clearer explanation of what a voluntary recall means (that is, when the manufacturer conducts a voluntary recall, it is not optional for industry customers to recall or not)
* clarification that government authorities require notification of all recalls – but not withdrawals
* elaboration of what the term ‘goods’ refers to in the Trades Practices Act

FSANZ has updated the protocol after extensive consultations with the food industry, the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the state and territory jurisdictions and other stakeholders.

“We began the review of the food recall coordination process and food recall protocols in mid-2007 as part of the agency’s ongoing commitment to keeping all our food safety processes up to date,” Mr McCutcheon explained. “The review has been exhaustive and we have consulted widely. Thanks to this consultation, we have been satisfied to find that the existing protocol already largely meets the needs of industry and we have not had to make substantial changes to our internal processes. We found that the comments from stakeholders were mainly very positive.”