Product recalls are serious business for any company, organisation or government body. They require a delicate approach to help ensure consumers do not panic or become alarmed about their health or wellbeing. In recent times, we have seen a number of recalls from retail food products through to auto parts recalls for a number of safety reasons. When these recalls occur it can be tough to decipher exactly what happened and why a recall was initiated. To better understand what happens when a product gets recalled, consider this guide.

Who makes the call?

Product recalls are usually made through a cooperative process between the organisation who made the product, the business who retails the product and a government body responsible for ensuring safety. These kinds of calls are not made lightly, and ultimately the decision is made by the ACCC recalls team. The ACCC is a government body tasked with protecting consumers. The ACCC work with producers and businesses when a recall is required, either making the decision to recall themselves or helping producers when they make what’s known as a ‘sponsor initiated recall’. In either of these circumstances, the ACCC acting with the Ministers approval, follow a detailed process to ensure consumer safety through the recall process.

What actually happens?

There a number of different recall options at the disposal of the ACCC and producers of consumer goods. Depending on the product issue, there may be a need for a particular course of action. Recalls are generally done because of some safety concern to consumers. In this instance, the recall process will usually result in the cessation of the product supply, relevant stakeholders being notified, a broad consumer warning about the recall and the reasons behind it, as well as some form of an offer to the consumers who purchased the recalled product to exchange or refund the product. Depending on the severity of the recall, producers may choose to not involve government bodies in their process, but there is usually some form of communication to aid in raising awareness of consumers to the product recall. The crux of the recall process is two-fold for a consumer, with the product being removed from shelves and consumers who had already purchased being reimbursed for that product.

Safeguard for the future

Once a product has been recalled, it begins a lengthy investigation into the defect or safety concern that arose. Suppliers, as a part of the notification process, will be speaking with all areas of their supply chain to help identify where the issue started. Once that point has been identified, all parties will work together to remedy the issue for any future batches or production runs for that product. These safeguards are important to help regain consumer confidence, which is why producers and suppliers are best off being transparent through this process. As a part of the reporting process following a recall, producers and suppliers will outline the issues and all strategies to rectify those issues into the future. As a consumer, if there are any concerns about product safety or quality, examining these reports or seeking updates from the ACCC is the best way to feel safe about a previously recalled product.


Product recalls can be scary for a consumer who either regularly purchases that product or who purchased the actual recalled product. The good news is that the suppliers and government bodies are all working hard together to ensure consumer safety, especially through the recall process. If you are involved in a recall process, this guide will help you understand exactly what happens and what you need to do.

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