Notification of withdrawal/recall

Notification of withdrawal/recall

Quality Control in a food processing plant

Notification of an incident that impacts on food safety and the consideration to withdrawal/recall of affected raw materials, ingredients and food products is a requirement of legislation as well as food business quality management systems. This includes the competent authorities as well as other food businesses to whom the affected food has been supplied.

Competent authority notification

If an operator at any stage of the food supply chain considers that food which it has placed on the market may be injurious to health, they shall immediately notify the competent authorities and detail the action to prevent the risk. The assessment as to whether the food might be injurious to health should be objective, i.e. based on evidence not personnel opinion.

Food businesses are also required not to prevent or discourage anyone form co-operating with the competent authorities to prevent, reduce or eliminate the risk arising from an unsafe food.

The business should inform the appropriate food safety agency and local authority where the business is based, and the port health authority if relevant. The information can be provided in a format the business finds easiest, and may be via relevant websites where this facility is available. A well organised food business will have appropriate crisis management systems in place, including the competent authority contact details.

Detailed advice on withdrawal recall and notification is available in the document ‘Principles for preventing and responding to food incidents’, which is available at

Food authorities, port health authorities and the Food Standards Agency are designated competent authorities.

Supplier notification

While it is not a stated requirement of the legislation, if a food business considers that a raw material, ingredient or product it has supplied to another food business is not compliant with food safety requirements, it is should inform its supplier of the non-compliance as a part of normal business to business relationship.

The supplier will then have reason to consider or to believe that a food not under its immediate control is non-compliant with food safety requirements. This supplier should, therefore, withdraw the affected food from the market and notify this withdrawal to the competent authority.

Many Private Voluntary Standards adopted by food business in the food supply chain have provisions relating to the management of incidents that impact on food safety, legality and quality including product withdrawal/recall.