Withdrawal and recall

Withdrawal and recall

Woman keeping records in a food processing plant

Withdrawal and recall are respectively the processes where product is removed from the supply chain and where consumers are advised to take action where the food is in the possession of the consumer.

Definitions

‘Withdrawal’ is the process by which a product is removed for the supply chain, with the exception of products that are in the possession of consumers.

‘Recall’ means the process by which a product is removed from the supply chain and where consumers are advised to take appropriate action, for example to return or destroy food.


Withdrawal / recall

The withdrawal of food from the market may take place at any point in the supply chain. The obligation to withdraw from the market is applies when two criteria are met:

  • A food is considered by the food business as being unsafe. In making this judgement the business will need to consider the normal conditions of use of the food by the consumer and at each stage of production, processing and distribution.
  • The food has left the immediate control of the initial food business.

The decision whether to withdrawal/recall should be made objectively. The business should consider whether the food is likely to injure the health of the consumer and whether it is otherwise unfit for consumption.

Where unsafe food may have reached the final consumer and/or withdrawal is insufficient to protect their health, the food business must recall the product and inform the consumer effectively and accurately of the reason for the recall.

The words ‘has left the control of the initial food business’ are important. It means the business is no longer able to take action by itself, but needs the co-operation from other businesses it has supplied. i.e. it has left the business and is in the hands of another business.

If food has not left the immediate control of the initial business, removal of food from the supply chain does not constitute a withdrawal and there is no requirement to notify the competent authorities.