New guidelines to ensure that food recalls are faster and smoother were released on Tuesday by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA).The guide informs the food industry on the right steps to be taken when a food recall becomes necessary.
ANZFA's Managing Director Ian Lindenmayer said the new Food Industry Recall Protocol sets out procedures for stopping the distribution and sale of an unsafe food product, notifying relevant authorities and removing food products from shelves.
He paid tribute to the many companies and individuals who assisted in identifying shortcomings in the previous guide and in putting forward ideas to make the recall system work more efficiently.
There were 39 food recalls in Australia in 2000 and 34 this year to date. Many of these recalls were precautionary in nature and almost all were initiated by food companies as part of a national food-safety strategy.
"This level of food recalls indicates that Australia has one of the most transparent and rigorous systems for ensuring food safety in the world," Mr Lindenmayer boasted.
"This has been achieved as much by cooperation as by regulation. Whole sectors of the food industry can be adversely affected by an episode of food poisoning or other health hazard from a food product, and so it's in everyone's interests to identify potentially unsafe food and to take action."
The revised Food Industry Recall Protocol has two levels of product recall - trade recalls and consumer recalls - in place of the three previous levels (wholesale, retail and consumer).
Trade recalls involve the recovery of food products from distribution centres, wholesalers and catering establishments such as hospitals, restaurants and other food outlets before they reach consumers.
Consumer recalls involves recovery of the product from all points in the production and distribution chain, including consumers.Food businesses engaged in the wholesale supply, manufacture or importation of food must have a written recall plan.