Role of the ACCC and government in recalls

  • The ACCC administers the recall provisions in the Australian Consumer Law. This includes overseeing the actions of suppliers conducting consumer product recalls.
  • Some consumer product safety requirements are regulated by other government agencies. We work with them to identify which agency will lead the recall.
  • We do not oversee the actions of those regulators that are the lead agency for those recalls.

We help administer the Australian Consumer Law

The Australian Consumer Law applies to all businesses that operate in Australia, including overseas businesses that supply goods to Australian consumers.

The ACCC and state and territory consumer protection agencies administer the Australian Consumer Law.

Our Product Safety Priorities sets out our key areas of focus for the coming year and describes our core functions, including to:

  • negotiate, assess and monitor the effectiveness of voluntary recalls
  • communicate product safety risks, where we are the lead agency.

See our annual Compliance and Enforcement Policy for how we approach compliance and enforcement action.

We receive voluntary recall notices from suppliers

Many suppliers voluntarily start recalls after becoming aware that their product presents a safety risk.

Sometimes, the ACCC or another agency becomes aware that a product is unsafe and contacts the supplier to negotiate a recall of the product.

The Australian Consumer Law requires suppliers to notify the Commonwealth Minister within 2 days of taking recall action. The ACCC receives your recall notice on behalf of the Commonwealth Minister.

Once received, we assess the notice and publish the recall on the Product Safety Australia website.

The Minister may order a compulsory recall

The Commonwealth Minister may also order a compulsory recall requiring a supplier to recall a product:

  • that will or may cause injury to a person, or does not meet a safety standard or ban under the Australian Consumer Law
  • when the Minister considers that one or more suppliers has not taken satisfactory action to prevent the goods from causing injury.

The Minister can only issue a compulsory recall notice if it appears a supplier has not taken satisfactory action to prevent the consumer goods injuring someone.

When issuing a compulsory recall notice, the Minister must:

  • tell suppliers in writing of a proposed recall (a proposed recall notice) including a summary of the reasons for the proposed issue of the recall notice. This must be published on the internet.
  • give suppliers an opportunity to ask for a conference with the ACCC about the proposed recall notice to present their case, unless there is an imminent danger to the public. Suppliers can review documents about the recall during this conference.

As soon as practical after the conference, the ACCC can recommend the Minister either:

  • issue a compulsory recall notice with no changes to the draft version
  • issue a recall notice with modifications as specified by the ACCC, or
  • not issue a recall notice.

If the Minister decides to act otherwise than in accordance with the recommendations, the Minister must publish a written notice on the internet setting out the reasons for their decision.

Using a compulsory recall notice, the Minister can require suppliers to:

  • recall the consumer goods
  • tell the public, or a particular group of people, that the consumer goods have a defect or dangerous characteristic, and what the defect or dangerous characteristic is
  • tell the public, or a particular group of people, the circumstances when a reasonably foreseeable use or misuse of the goods is dangerous
  • explain to the public, or to a particular group of people, how to dispose of the goods.

State and territory ministers can also issue a compulsory recall notice for products supplied in their jurisdiction. Refer to the state and territory consumer protection agencies to find out more what their requirements are when issuing a compulsory recall.

Case study

In 2018 the Government announced the compulsory recall of vehicles fitted with defective Takata airbags on the basis that:

  • they may cause injury or death to drivers and passengers, and
  • suppliers of vehicles with defective Takata airbags had not taken satisfactory action to prevent those vehicles causing injury or death to drivers and passengers.

The compulsory recall required suppliers to:

  • recall all affected vehicles on a rolling basis and replace the airbag at no cost to the consumer and arrange towing/transporting a vehicle or providing loan cars in certain circumstances. Priority was given to replacing airbags that presented the highest safety risk
  • contact affected consumers directly in line with an approved communication and engagement plan
  • publish a vehicle identification number search tool on their website to allow consumers to identify if their vehicle is affected
  • publish a recall initiation schedule on their website to advise consumers when vehicles were recalled
  • report to the ACCC on progress
  • replace all Takata airbags in Australian vehicles by 31 December 2020.

Suppliers have an ongoing obligation to replace any remaining defective Takata airbags until they reach 100% completion.

We receive progress reports during the recall

Suppliers send us regular progress reports during the recall.

We let suppliers know that progress reports are not needed when we consider that all reasonable steps to recall the product have been taken and the risk to consumers has been adequately mitigated.

When all products are accounted for, we change the status of the recall to closed. See Our actions when a recall is in the final stages for more information.

We assess and can escalate recalls

We assess the effectiveness of the recalls that we monitor proportionate to the risk.

There are times, such as when suppliers do not supply progress reports or don’t respond to us when we make contact, that will prompt us to review the recall.

There are possible outcomes and actions we can take to escalate the recall and tell consumers about the risk from a product.

See We assess and can escalate the recalls we monitor for more information.

Sometimes another government agency leads the recall

Different government agencies are responsible for regulating the safety of different types of products including:

  • agricultural products
  • asbestos
  • building and building materials
  • chemicals
  • therapeutic goods such as medicines, complementary medicines, medical devices and medical tests
  • electrical goods
  • food and beverages
  • gas appliances
  • road vehicles and road traffic safety
  • smoking and tobacco
  • veterinary chemical products.

Products that are covered by a specialist regime may also be a consumer good covered by the Australian Consumer Law.

Which agency is the lead agency

The ACCC and specialist agencies have arrangements in place to identify which agency is the lead agency when a product safety issue occurs.

Agricultural and veterinary products, food, therapeutic goods, and road vehicles

For the following products, the specialist agency, and not the ACCC, is the lead agency for the recall and other safety issues.

For these products, the specialist agency:

  • assesses the recall and publishes the recall on its website
  • decides whether to intervene in the recall and what actions to take.

The specialist agency’s guidelines, and not these guidelines, apply to the recall. Suppliers need to check the specialist agency’s recall guidelines, as updated from time to time, to understand what they have to do when conducting the recall.


Specialist (lead) agency

Recall resources

Agricultural and veterinary chemical products

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority


Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is the coordinating authority working with the relevant state or territory food agency

Notification of the recall to the ACCC is done by FSANZ on behalf of the food business undertaking the recall

Therapeutic goods

Therapeutic Goods Administration

Road vehicles and approved road vehicle parts

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Recall notices for road vehicles and approved road vehicles parts are received by the Department, and not the ACCC, under the Australian Consumer Law

Gas appliances, electrical and building products

For an electrical product, gas appliance or building product recall, a state or territory regulator is designated as the point of contact (home regulator).

For electrical products and gas appliances, the home regulator is usually the regulator located where the initial incident occurred or where the recalling supplier is located.

When a supplier notifies the ACCC of a recall

  • the ACCC will seek advice from the home regulator to make sure that the wording in the recall notice is accurate and suitable to the risk. The ACCC will publish the agreed notice on the Product Safety Australia website
  • both the home regulator and the ACCC monitors the recall. Suppliers provide progress reports to both the home regulator and the ACCC. The home regulator liaises with the other state and territory regulators
  • information given to us will usually be shared with the home regulator. This is to assist us in understanding the risk, hazard, use and misuse of the product
  • both this guideline and the state and territory regulator’s guideline apply to the recall.


Specialist agency

Building products

Contact your state and territory building and plumbing administrations for more information. For suppliers in the Northern Territory, contact Northern Territory Consumer Affairs.

Electrical products

Contact your state or territory electrical safety regulator for more information

The Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council Recall Guidelines published by the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council also apply to the recall

Gas appliances

Contact your state or territory gas appliance safety regulator for more information

The Gas Technical Regulators Committee Recall Guidelines published by the Gas Technical Regulators Committee also apply to the recall

Other products

For other products covered by a specialist regime, you need to contact the specialist agency to understand your obligations. This includes the following specialist agencies:


Specialist agency


State or territory work health safety regulator

Chemicals - Industrial chemicals

Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme


State and territory poisons regulators

Some state and territory regulators may not have recall powers and may collaborate with state consumer affairs to recall a product.

You can find further information about the Australian product safety system and a list of specialist agencies on the Product Safety Australia website.

Is this page useful?