Food recall information for consumers
A food recall is action taken to remove unsafe or unsuitable food from distribution and sale, and from consumers. Find out why and how foods are recalled, and what's done to protect consumer safety.
Subscribe to food recalls
Alerts about food recalls can be sent direct to your inbox by email. You can choose to subscribe to all food recalls or only those related to food allergens.
Recalls caused by food safety issues
Most food recalls are voluntarily done by businesses when they become aware of a potential food safety or suitability issue. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI):
- coordinates all food recalls for food products sold in New Zealand
- works with food businesses to ensure the recall is effectively carried out
- works with overseas agencies to manage any imported or exported products which are being recalled.
Food recalls can also occur after:
- investigations of reported foodborne illness
- complaints about the safety or suitability of food.
Identifying a food safety risk
A potential food safety issue may be found by:
- the food business that supplies the affected food or ingredient
- a report made by a consumer to MPI's food safety hotline – 0800 00 83 33
- a third-party verifier while checking a food business
- a report from an overseas authority where an imported food was produced
- testing through MPI's food monitoring programmes.
Examples of food safety risks
- Foreign objects such as glass
- Unlabelled ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction
- 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 to decide if a food should be recalled. This could be the product's manufacturer, supplier, importer, or distributor. When making the decision, we consider things such as:
- the nature of the hazard or food safety risk
- how it could affect people
- how much of the hazard a consumer would be exposed to.
Part of what makes our food safety system robust is our ability to respond quickly when something goes wrong. Consumers need to be protected and that's where food recalls come in.
The safety of consumers is our number one priority in any food recall. The decision to recall food is made quickly – sometimes before all the information is available – if there is high risk to health.
If a food business needs to recall a food but fails to do so, the food business can be directed to recall the product by law. This occurs rarely as most food businesses do recalls when required.
Food businesses that sell the recalled food must remove it from all parts of the supply chain. If there's any chance the affected food has already been sold to consumers, a plan for letting the public know is developed. Recalls apply to all products containing the affected food or ingredient. To keep a related food (such as an earlier batch) on the market, the business that supplied it must demonstrate why it's different from the recalled food.
Letting consumers know about recalls
Consumers can be told about food recalls in a number of ways:
- Notices are placed at outlets where the product was sold.
- A media release is issued.
- The food business runs paid advertisements about the recall in selected media.
- The food business may use social media and their own website to notify consumers.
- A recall notice is published by MPI on this website and MPI social media pages.
Food businesses must tell consumers:
- what batches of food are being recalled
- where it was purchased from
- what to do if they have the recalled food.
Notices about food recalls usually include a photo of the recalled food to help consumers check if they have bought it.
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 questions about food recalls, email firstname.lastname@example.org