Food recall information for consumers
If a food is found to be unsafe or unsuitable, it is removed from shops and supermarkets. This is called a food recall, and can involve recovering any affected food that has been sold to consumers.
Recalls sparked by food safety issues
Most food recalls are voluntarily initiated by businesses when they become aware of a potential food safety or suitability issue. MPI coordinates all food recalls for food products sold in New Zealand and works with food businesses to ensure the recall is effectively carried out.
Food recalls can also occur after investigations of reported foodborne illness, or complaints about the safety or suitability of food.
Identifying a risk
A potential food safety issue may be identified by:
- the business responsible for supplying the affected food or ingredient
- a complaint made by the public to MPI's food safety hotline – 0800 00 83 33
- a report from an overseas authority where an imported food was produced
- testing through MPI's food monitoring programmes.
Learn about MPI's food monitoring programmes:
Examples of food safety risks
- Foreign objects such as glass or unintended ingredients
- Unlabelled ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction
- Contamination with microbes, such as bacteria or viruses that can harm human health
- Contamination with chemicals that can harm human health.
Deciding if a recall is needed
MPI works with businesses (the product's manufacturer, supplier, importer, or distributor) to decide if a food should be recalled. When making the decision, we consider things such as:
- the nature of the hazard
- how it could affect people
- how much of the hazard a consumer would be exposed to.
We use a risk analysis form to help reach a decision about a recall.
The safety of consumers is our number one priority in any recall. Food recall decisions have to be made quickly, sometimes before all the information is available. If there's a possibility of harmful effects on health, the product is recalled – even if scientific uncertainty remains.
Businesses that sell the affected food are told to take it out of circulation. If there's any chance the food has already been sold to consumers, a plan for creating public awareness is developed.
Letting consumers know about recalls
The public are notified of food recalls in a number of ways:
- Notices are placed at outlets where the product was sold.
- A media release is issued to appropriate news services.
- The recalling company runs paid advertisements in selected media.
- A recall notice is published by MPI on this website.
The recalling company may also use social media and their own website to notify consumers.
Sometimes MPI issues Director-General statements (also called 'privileged statements') to help warn consumers about food safety problems. We may do this when:
- it's urgent for a wide audience to hear about a recall
- there's a problem with a category of food but we don't yet know which product/s to recall
- the manufacturer or importer of the food is responding too slowly or mismanaging a recall
- there's a recall causing a high level of public concern.
Scope of recalls
Recalls apply to all products containing the affected food or ingredient. To keep a related product (such as an earlier batch) on the market, the business that supplied it must demonstrate why it's different from the recalled item.
Closing the recall
When the recall has been completed, MPI audits the process to see if the recall could have been done better. We also look for improvements to food safety practices that could have avoided the recall in the first place.
Find out more
Read the checklist showing the steps businesses take to notify a food recall:
Who to contact
If you have any questions about food recalls, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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