The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for advising importing country authorities of instances where exported Australian food poses a food safety risk and has been subject to a recall, including trade recalls.
Export registered manufacturing establishments and exporters have legal responsibilities to provide advice to the department when these situations occur. A different food recall system is in place for exported meat and meat products but these procedures apply to exports of:
Why recalls of exported food occur
Australian recalls and withdrawals
Where food available in the Australian marketplace poses a health or safety risk, an Australian food recall is coordinated by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) in consultation with the manufacturer and relevant state and territory authorities. Australian food recalls are designed to prevent unsafe (or potentially unsafe) food from being sold, distributed or consumed in Australia.
Manufacturers are responsible for food withdrawals due to quality, ethical or suitability issues or unconfirmed food safety risk.
Product that is subject to an Australian food recall or withdrawal may also have been exported. FSANZ collects information related to the recalled exported product and provides it to the department.
Notifications from importing country authorities
Where an importing country authority advises the Australian Government of an Australian product that has potential food safety concerns, the department requires a trace-back and investigation.
Product found to pose a risk needs to be removed from the supply chain overseas, which is the responsibility of the manufacturer and/or exporter. It may also be the subject of a recall in the other country/s, depending on the direction given by the importing country authority.
Managing a recall of exported food
The timeline for managing a recall of exported food outlines the different responsibilities.
Indicative timeline for a recall of exported food
|Timing||Export registered manufacturer||Exporter|
|Immediately||Manufacturing establishment identifies all affected product.||–|
|Within 2–4 hours||Establishment determines deposition of all affect product and advises domestic and international customers.||Exporter informs export registered manufacturer and the department about deposition of affected product.|
Exporter advises customer/s in the importing country about food recall.
|Post recall||Establishment records product recall inventory, including the quantity of product recovered, and maintains contact with the department.||Exporter records product recall inventory, including the quantity of product recovered, and maintains contact with the department.|
Responsibilities of an export registered manufacturer
If a food product manufactured by your establishment is subject to an Australian recall or an international trace-back or investigation, you must immediately:
- identify all potentially affected product
- determine whether any of the product has been exported.
If any affected product has been exported or onsold to a company that intends to export it, you must undertake the following steps.
Identify affected product
Identify all implicated product that has been exported or has the potential to be exported.
Email the department all manufacturing details that will help to identify the product, such as:
- brand and product name/s
- description of affected product/s
- date/s of manufacture
- batch number/s
- mass, volume or quantity of product/s.
Determine the status of affected product
Locate affected product still in your possession and inform buyers of all affected product that has been distributed.
Buyers of affected product, including those in another country or a domestic buyer that may intend to export the product, must be directed to hold product that has not been placed on the market and remove any product available for sale.
All product still in your possession must be immediately put on hold and segregated from non-affected product. Prepare an inventory of the status of the product and how much has been traced.
Responsibilities of an exporter
Contact your buyers
If you learn that product you have exported is subject to a food recall you must immediately:
- contact your buyer/s in the importing country
- determine if the product has been distributed
- advise them to remove from the market any product still available for sale.
Inform the manufacturing establishment and the department
Provide product distribution information to the export registered manufacturing establishment and the department. You will not be liaising with FSANZ directly. Use the Exported food recall template to assist with this process.
Responsibilities for notification to importing country authorities
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
The department will inform authorities in the importing country that have received Australian product that is subject to a recall in Australia. Overseas governments decide what action is to be taken on product in the marketplace. Each government will decide whether a public food recall is required in its country.
Export registered establishments and exporters
Exported product that is ineligible for return to Australia is subject to some management decision, such as treatment, reprocessing or destruction. You must determine this action in consultation with your buyers and the overseas government authorities.
Failure to comply with legal requirements and/or to provide the necessary information in a timely manner in the event of a recall of exported product may result in penalties, which include but are not limited to:
- suspension or revocation of registration
- withdrawal of export services
- additional conditions and restrictions on processing.