The recall process in Australia has received an overhaul after the introduction of a new service that is aimed at making the process more efficient and transparent.
GS1 Australia, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and Efficient Consumer Response Australia (ECRA) launched the system, called the GS1 Recallnet, on August 10.
The national product recall service is aimed at removing potentially harmful food, liquor, grocery and other products from the supply chain and replaces the older recall system that has been previously deemed slow and inefficient.
According to Kim Leighton, director of food policy and regulation at the AFGC, the new older paper-form service was far too slow and restricted in its scope to allow for an efficient recall of food products.
"The older recall process involved the use of paper based forms that the recalling company would send to retailers and supermarkets informing them of the recall and its reasons,” said Leighton.
However, there was no way for the companies to know whether all the concerned retailers and supermarkets have received the notice and that they are then undertaking the recall.
“The new electronic service is more interactive in that sense, as it allows the immediate notification of the recall to the retailers by the companies and also informs the latter when their notice is received and opened,” he said.
This is one of the two big advantages of the new service over the older one, said Leighton. The second advantage related to the real time monitoring and reconciliation in the entire recall process.
“The earlier service left the companies blind after they sent out their forms. The new service can be fed with how much of the product has been recalled, which the companies can monitor in real time,” said Leighton.
This allows the company to reconcile the quantity of products shipped against those recalled to get an accurate picture of how many of such products are in the consumers hands to the regulatory agencies, he said.
“The regulator too, in this case the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand [FSANZ], has immediate access to the service, which would let it monitor in real time the progress of a recall without having to wait for information from the concerned company,” he added.
GS1 Australia is the Australian member of the global GS1 organisation, whose main activity is the development of the GS1 System, a series of standards designed to improve supply-chain management.