When to recall a consumer product for safety reasons

  • Suppliers have a responsibility for removing risk to public safety by recalling unsafe products.
  • Suppliers should maintain good quality assurance processes and keep up to date with media and feedback on the products they supply.
  • Suppliers must tell the ACCC about a recall of a consumer product that will or may impact people’s safety, within 2 days of commencing recall action.
  • There are several steps suppliers can take to reduce the chance of a safety issue with their products.

Australian consumers trust that the products they buy are safe. A safe product is one that is free from risk of injury, including when it is misused in a foreseeable way. When there is risk of injury, the product is unsafe. As a supplier, you have a responsibility for removing the risk to public safety as quickly as possible by recalling the product. This responsibility sits with you no matter where you are in the supply chain – manufacturer, importer, distributor or retailer.

A product is a consumer product when it is intended to be used, or is of a kind likely to be used, for personal, domestic or household use, including gifts and promotional material.

A consumer is the end user of the product.

Learn about any safety issues with your products

Maintain good quality assurance processes and keep up to date with media and feedback on the products you supply.

There are many ways you can be alerted to a safety issue with your product. This includes through:

  • supply chain or manufacturing advice
  • product or quality testing
  • contact from a government agency
  • overseas recalls
  • warranty returns and refunds
  • consumer reports of an injury or death
  • enquiries or complaints from consumers
  • product reviews
  • media reports.

You should have systems in place so you are quickly informed and able to act on any potential safety issues with your products. The earlier you act on a safety hazard, the more effective your recall is likely to be.

If you are an Australian supplier of an imported product and the overseas parent company is recalling it, you still need to:

  • conduct your own enquiry into the safety risk
  • actively pursue the parent company about the need to recall and manage the recall
  • monitor safety issues and recalls taking place overseas and act – do not ignore what is happening with a recall action in another country or by another supplier of a similar product.

You may not have all the available information when telling us about a recall. You should continue to review the safety risk and update us as your understanding of the risk changes.

When to recall a consumer product

Recall a consumer product when you become aware:

  • using it will or may injure a person (even if it has no apparent defect)
  • using it in a reasonably foreseeable way, including foreseeable misuse, will or may injure a person
  • it is likely it does not comply with mandatory safety standards under the Australian Consumer Law
  • it is the subject of an interim or permanent ban.

When to tell the ACCC

You must tell us about a recall for a consumer product you have supplied that will or may impact people’s safety within 2 days of commencing recall action.

However, you do not need to tell us about consumer products that are recalled for reasons that do not relate to the safety of people. For example, you do not need to tell us about:

  • recalls due to quality issues if they will not cause harm to people
  • recalls where the safety concerns are directed towards animals, such as pet food.

Learn more about your obligations when notifying a recall to the ACCC.

Suppliers conduct the safety recall

When a product needs to be recalled for safety reasons, it is the supplier who leads the recall. This is known as a voluntary recall which is the focus of these guidelines.

Suppliers should avoid using the term voluntary in recall communications as it reduces the likelihood that consumers will respond to the recall.

A supplier is a person or entity that supplies, or agrees to supply or resupply, by way of sale, exchange, lease, hire or hire-purchase a consumer good.

You are a supplier if you are:

  • a retailer, dealer, contractor, distributor, installer, repairer, franchisor, franchisee, importer, manufacturer, or exporter of a consumer product, or
  • in the business of importing, manufacturing, selling, leasing, exchanging, hiring, repairing, installing, supplying on consignment, or making available for hire-purchase any consumer product.

When there is more than one supplier of a product, for example a product manufacturer, importer and distributor, the suppliers need to decide who will lead the recall, and what each supplier is responsible for. See Work out which supplier will lead the recall for more information.

Learn about what the ACCC expects of suppliers during a recall and the role of the ACCC and government in recalls.

Reduce the likelihood of needing to recall a product

Exercise care and take steps to confirm facts when sourcing products. Consider engaging a consultant to check that you are meeting all required safety criteria.

Actions you can take to reduce the chance of a safety issue with your products are:

  • Be aware of and meet any relevant mandatory standards or industry standards. These standards specify minimum safety requirements that the products must or should meet before supply.
  • Engage a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited test facility to test your products against safety criteria. Some overseas test facilities may also be able to test your product if they are accredited with a recognised testing authority. You are responsible for meeting the requirements outlined in mandatory standards and industry standards before supplying products to consumers.
  • Contact Standards Australia to find out if there are any standards that you can use to make your consumer products safe.
  • Check if your product is banned. If a permanent or interim ban is in place for a product or product-related service, it is against the law to supply, offer to supply, manufacture, possess, or have control or custody of the product.
  • If you’re importing goods, find out if they are prohibited from being imported.

Set up and maintain a quality assurance and testing system to identify safety issues before your products are supplied to consumers.

You should also ask your suppliers for quality assurance reports, so you know that products and their parts meet any related standards and are safe.