Notification, withdrawal, and recall

Notification, withdrawal, and recall

plate with skull and crossbones on it

All food businesses are responsible for the safety of food. The principle aim is to protect human health and consumer’s interest in relation to food. If food may be unsafe the competent authorities must be informed. Food that is unsafe must be withdrawn form sale or recalled from consumers if it has already been sold.

Article 19 of Regulation (EC) 178/2002 requires food businesses to withdraw, and or recall food from the market if it is unsafe. Food businesses must also notify the competent authorities (their local Authority and the Food Standards Agency), and collaborate with these authorities on the action that should be taken to avoid or reduce the risks posed by the food.


Food businesses must inform the competent authorities immediately if food they have placed on the market may be injurious to human health. In this context ‘placing on the market’ means the holding of food or feed for the purpose of sale, including offering for sale or any other form of transfer, whether free of charge or not, and the sale and distribution, and other forms of transfer themselves.

Food businesses must co-operate with the competent authorities on the action they have taken or propose to take to avoid or reduce the risks posed by a food they supply or have supplied.

Withdrawal and recall

A food business is required to withdraw food from the market where it considers or has reason to believe that a food which it has imported, produced, processed, manufactured or distributed is not safe, and the food has left the immediate control of the initial food business.

Where unsafe food may have reached the final consumer, the food business must inform consumers effectively and accurately of the reason for the withdrawal of the product. The food business must also recall the food from consumers where other measures are insufficient to protect their health. The reason for the recall should provide details as to why the product is unsafe.

Food businesses responsible for retail or distribution activities which do not affect the packaging, labelling, safety or integrity of food, must also play their part in the withdrawal of unsafe food, and in passing on relevant information.