New tools introduced to help with the recall or withdrawal of unsafe food

If a business becomes aware of a food incident the relevant product type may need to be withdrawn or recalled. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has developed a number of templates to help businesses in the event of an incident.

What is a food incident?

A food incident is where there are concerns about the safety or the quality of food and so it may need to be withdrawn or recalled. For withdrawals, food is withdrawn from the supply chain before it reaches the consumer. A recall is where food is also removed from the supply chain and the consumer is advised to dispose of or return the affected food. When a food incident happens, you should also notify your Local Authority so they can advise you of any additional steps to take.

In the event of a food incident in your business, we will always suggest that you discuss the circumstances with one of our solicitors. As we mentioned earlier, the FSA has developed a bank of templates to help you manage food incidents. It includes a template to list your key contacts if there is an incident, as this will make it easier to identify who to notify in the event of a recall or withdrawal. There is also a template to log any decisions made in relation to a food incident, which is helpful when you have to notify the FSA of an incident, particularly where the food has reached the consumer, as they may have to issue a recall notice.

What steps should you take if you identify a food incident?

  • Find out where the unsafe food has reached within the supply chain;
  • Consider whether a recall is needed if the unsafe food has reached the consumer;
  • Carry out a root cause analysis exercise to find out why the incident happened and how it can be prevented in the future;
  • Notify the FSA of the incident if the unsafe food has reached the consumer; and
  • Notify your Local Authority so they can provide you with additional advice and guidance.

The Local Authority or FSA may carry out their own investigations into the food incident and it is important that you and your business are prepared for this.

At Markel Law our specialist regulatory solicitors can provide advice and assistance with an investigation relating to your food business.