Who needs to know about a product recall
When you launch a product recall, you must:
- notify us of the recall
- publish a recall notice
- publicise the recall to make sure the information reaches all of your customers.
Notifying us about a product recall
You must notify the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment if you're recalling a product because of a safety issue.
Failure to notify us of a recall is an offence under the Fair Trading Act and you could be fined up to $600,000.
To notify a recall, email us.
What you must tell us
You must inform us about a product recall within 2 working days of the recall being made public – but we encourage you to let us know as early as possible.
- only needs to be done once for each recall, even if there are several businesses involved
- should be done by the business coordinating the recall for New Zealand.
Section 31A of the Fair Trading Act has more information on which recalls you need to notify.
Recalls you don’t need to notify us about
You don't need to notify us about recalls:
- of products that have reporting or recall process requirements under other legislation, such as food, medicine, vehicles
- relating only to product quality — for example, because the paint on the product fades quickly.
Publishing a recall notice
Your recall notice must have:
- details of the defective product
- clear photographs of the product, and
- contact details, for example an email address or NZ phone number.
The recall notice should:
- be written in plain language that is clear and easy to understand. Avoid using formal legal language and jargon
- include a clear description of the hazard
- have an eye-catching border with bold, diagonal lines and a hazard triangle in the top left hand corner. The border should be black, black and yellow, red, or black and red.
The recommended sizes for a printed notice are:
- A6 size for newspapers and magazines
- A5 or A4 size for in-store point-of-sale notices
- A3 size for in-store consumer noticeboards.
What to include in your recall notice
The information in your recall notice is important. If you include too much information, consumers may try to fix the fault themselves. If you don't include enough information, consumers may not take the hazard seriously and risk injury to themselves or others using the product.
- Give the brand and model of the product as it was marketed.
- Use a clear photograph or line drawing of the product.
- Make it easily identifiable to attract the reader’s attention.
- Ensure you show the product as it would be used.
- Use insets to show where to find the product's identifying markings such as serial number.
- State where and when the product may have been purchased, or whether it was available nationwide through named suppliers.
If a particular batch or production date is affected, tell consumers how to establish whether their product is part of the affected batch — for example, the serial number, date code, bar code, labelling or product feature.
Give the reason for the recall — for example, because the product failed to meet a safety standard, or caused injuries.
Be clear and concise with this information — don't try to avoid mentioning injuries if these have occurred, and don't over-explain the issue.
Give a clear, brief description of the hazard and what could happen — for example, a child may be strangled or you could get cut.
What to do
Provide clear instructions on what affected consumers should do. This could be to:
- contact you for further instructions
- send the product back
- take it to the retailer they bought it from, or
- register a claim on a website.
If they should stop using the product immediately, state this clearly.
At a minimum, you should provide a New Zealand phone number and an email address for enquiries.
You should also include the name and address of the New Zealand manufacturer or importer/distributor.
Where to publish a recall notice
We publicise recalls on this website and through our Facebook page. We also expect that the recall notice will be published on your business’s website and social media pages.
For products sold:
- nationally, publish the recall notice in the major newspapers
- locally, publish the notice in local or community newspapers.
The notice should:
- be placed in a prominent position in the news section, not buried in the public notices
- appear within the first 8 pages of the main news section of newspapers
- be at least 2 columns wide, with a suggested minimum size of 11cm by 14cm (approximately A6).
We recommend that recall notices are prominently displayed in-store wherever the product was sold:
- at the point of sale (recommended size A5 or A4), and
- on customer noticeboards (recommended size A3).
Publicising the recall
Even if the initial purchaser no longer has the product, you still have a duty to inform and provide an appropriate remedy to anyone using or likely to be affected by an unsafe product that you have supplied.
Other publicity channels
Other channels you may want to consider include:
- asking relevant organisations to publish the recall in their newsletters and websites — for example, Plunket may publicise the recall of a toy or nursery product
- magazines where the product was advertised
- specialist publications — for example, if a gardening tool is involved then place recall notices in specialist gardening magazines
- radio or television
- retailers’ mailers.
The advertising you used to encourage people to buy the product in the first place may also be a good way of telling them about the safety issue and remedy available.
Telling your customers about the recall directly is highly effective and we encourage businesses to do this wherever possible. To identify people who may have bought the product, you can use customer databases, sales records, or loyalty schemes.
A media release can give you free publicity for your recall on radio, television and in newspapers. Covering of a recall on television news or programmes like 'Fair Go' can be very effective.
A media release should be short, direct and written in simple language. Discuss the main point first and, if possible, include a quote from someone with authority in your business. Include the same information as in the recall notice.