Import Control and Food Safety Guidelines

Food Recall Guidelines

Contents

IntroductionThe LegislationRole of the GovernmentRole of the Food IndustryInitiation of a RecallNotification to the Food and Environmental Hygiene DepartmentInforming the ConsumerAssessment of the RecallRemoval from ShelvesProduct RecoveryFollow-up ActionConclusion

APPENDIX

Food Recall Notification FormFood Recall ProceduresFood Recall Notification

Introduction

Introduction

Legislation

Role of the Government

Role of the Food Industry

Initiation of a Recall

Notification to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

For transparency and best protection of public health, food traders should immediately notify the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of the cause of recall together with any opinions on the risk to public health and safety and the proposed actions to be taken by completing the 'Voluntary Food Recall Notification Form' as provided at Appendix A. Such information should be provided to the Department by fax (fax no. 2521 4784) or email (Food_Recall_Notification@fehd.gov.hk). Any enquiries about recall procedures or actual cases of recall should be directed to the Superintendent (Food Surveillance)1 of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department at tel. no. 2867 5567 or staff of this department at tel. no. 9867 8401 during non office hours for enquiry.

Informing the Consumer

Depending on the extent of the recall, the trader concerned should inform the consumer of the recall at the earliest possible moment. Information dissemination may take the form of a press release, letter to the concerned parties, paid advertisement in the media, making public announcement and putting up posters in stores for receiving the food concerned from customers. Sufficient telephone hotline service should be made available to deal with enquiries.

Assessment of the Recall

Food and Environmental Hygiene Department may assess the adequacy of the traders action, including the following:

  1. prompt announcement of recall/ prohibition of supply or import through the media;
  2. setting up of customer enquiry service;
  3. agreement amongst the importers, distributors and retailers on recall/ prohibition of supply or import arrangement, such as convenient and adequate locations for return of the food concerned;
  4. the promptness in withdrawing the food concerned from shelves at retail end and proper storage of food in locations which are inaccessible by the customers pending return to warehouse of importers or distributors;
  5. the promptness in returning the food withdrawn to the warehouse of importers or distributors and the appropriate way of disposal;
  6. whether proper record of the recalled food is kept by traders concerned; and
  7. the investigation into the cause of defect and the remedial action taken (investigation report with improvement measures to be submitted to Food and Environmental Hygiene Department).

Removal from shelves

Product Recovery

Products may be recovered by return to supermarkets, return via distribution chains or direct return from consumers. The product is to be recovered to a central site, or in the case of widely distributed product, to major recovery sites. The recovered product must be stored in an area which is separated from any other food product. Accurate records are to be kept of the amount of recovered product and the batch codes of the product recovered. After recovery, products may be corrected or reprocessed before release to the market if it is fit for human consumption. Otherwise the product is to be destroyed.

Follow-up Action

Conclusion

Worldwide, cooperation between the food traders and the regulatory authority has proven over the years to be the quickest and most reliable method to remove potentially dangerous products from the market. These guidelines outline the procedures which would enhance efficiency and transparency in the recall of food products. The implementation of such guidelines will hopefully minimize the loss inflicted on the traders and the community at large.

A flow chart summarizing the procedures to be followed in a voluntary food recall is at Appendix B.