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Video – Food recalls, what you need to know (1.42)
[Light-hearted guitar jingle plays. White text on orange background: Food recalls. What you need to know. An orange and black logo on white background appears below: New Zealand Food Safety Haumaru Kai Aotearoa.]
[Vincent Arbuckle, a man with grey hair, is sitting at a table with 3 dishes in front of him: a bowl of muesli, one with lollies, and a plate of sliced delicatessen ham. Vincent wears round glasses, a dark blue suit, and a white shirt. His arms are resting on the table.]
[As Vincent starts speaking, the music fades to the background. An orange card with white text appears from the top left: Vincent Arbuckle, New Zealand Food Safety’s deputy director general.]
[Vincent Arbuckle:] Here at New Zealand Food Safety our job is to ensure that food is safe and suitable before you take it home.
Sometimes things will go wrong and that’s where food recalls come into place to keep you safe as a consumer.
[The camera focuses on Vincent, from his shoulders up.]
Our priority is to act promptly to protect consumers when there is a recall. You may have seen information about recalls at supermarkets in the past.
There may be a range of reasons why a recall is necessary.
[The camera focuses on the 3 dishes. Vincent's hand sweeps over them as he speaks.]
It could be a bacteria such as listeria is present in the food. Or it could be that there’s an undeclared allergen in the food.
[Vincent holds a broken wooden ice cream stick up to the camera.]
Or it could be a foreign body that you wouldn’t expect or want in your food.
[As Vincent mentions the reasons for recalls, white text on orange background appears from the left. Reasons food may need to be recalled:
- foreign bodies.]
[The camera goes back to Vincent sitting at the table.]
There are many ways in which a food safety issue can come to our attention.
It may be a complaint from a consumer to our New Zealand Food Safety complaint hotline
[The complaint hotline number appears from the left: 0800 00 83 33.]
It might be a referral from an overseas jurisdiction. It could be a traceback from a foodborne illness investigation.
[A pregnant woman appears on screen pushing a trolley in delicatessen section of supermarket. She selects a packet of sliced ham from the shelf and reads the label.]
Or it could be a referral from a producer or a retailer.
[Back to a closeup on Vincent.]
Food recalls are all about managing risk.
If there’s any chance that a recalled food is still in the food system, we’ll make sure that consumers are advised as soon as possible.
They're usually on our website or through the media.
[White text on orange background appears as Vincent mentions the website: Subscribe to our food recall website www.mpi.govt.nz/news/subscribe-to-mpi/]
[Back to Vincent sitting at the table. An orange card with white text appears from the left: How can you stay up to date on recalls?]
There’s a simple way in which you can keep informed about food recalls yourself. You can go to our food recall page and subscribe yourself.
[Orange text on white background appears from the bottom as Vincent mentions the recall page: Subscribe to our food recall website www.mpi.govt.nz/news/subscribe-to-mpi/]
You can also indicate particular interests that you might have in types of recalls, such as an allergen recall.
So thank you New Zealand and thank you for keeping yourself safe.
[Background music fades as the initial screen comes back. White text on orange background: Food recalls. What you need to know. An orange and black logo on white background appears below: New Zealand Food Safety Haumaru Kai Aotearoa.]
[End of video and transcript]
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 steps food businesses take to notify a food recall:
Who to contact
If you have questions about food recalls, email firstname.lastname@example.org