Managing a product recall

Effective recalls are good for the public, your customers, and for your business’ bottom line.

Who should be involved

Under the Fair Trading Act, everyone in the supply chain is responsible for product safety and has a role to play in a recall, including:

  • the importer or New Zealand manufacturer – knows the quantities involved and the scope of the issue
  • the distributor – knows which retailer(s) have been supplied with the unsafe product and the quantities involved
  • the retailers – know the product's target market and the people who have purchased the product.

A high profile, open and successful recall will give a strong, positive message to your customers that you are working in their best interests.

Who coordinates the recall

Who coordinates or manages the recall will depend on who is best placed and most capable of doing so.

The organisation managing the recall will need:

  • distribution details — how many units were imported or manufactured and sold, and where did they go
  • a remedy — will you refund, replace, or repair the product? Make sure that you have sufficient quantities of any replacement product or additional parts, and you know when these will be available
  • monitoring systems to track the remedy rate so you can assess the progress of the recall and work out whether further action is necessary.

What to do with recalled products

If a recalled product can't be modified or repaired to make it safe to use, it should be disposed of so that it can't be used again.

Make sure the recalled products are disposed of properly – there have been cases where suppliers were convicted after recalled goods were on-sold through an auction website.

Safety issues

If a product was unsafe to start with, it may need to be significantly reworked or modified to ensure it is safe to put back onto the market.

Legal issues

If the recall issue is because the product doesn't comply with legal requirements (for example, electrical regulations), these requirements will need to be met before the product is put back on the market.

Environmental issues

If a product contains toxic materials, such as lead, it must be destroyed in an environmentally sound manner.