What a recall is

A product recall is any corrective action taken to remedy a product safety issue that's identified after a product has been manufactured.

What a product recall involves

Recalls don't just involve recovering affected products — the term 'product recall' is recognised and used internationally to describe any corrective action taken post-production to address health or safety issues associated with a product.

If a product is found to be unsafe, 'corrective actions' are the actions required to:

  • remove the potential for harm, and
  • reduce risk to consumers or end-users.

A product recall can include a wide range of actions, including but not limited to:

  • recovery of the product
  • repairing or upgrading the product
  • sending out additional parts or information to consumers.

For example, recalls are often issued to advise consumers that a product needs to be upgraded or repaired. This may only involve the supplier sending out additional components or instructions to customers.

Types of product recall

There are 2 types of product recall — voluntary recalls and compulsory recalls.

Voluntary recall

A voluntary recall occurs when a business or individual acts on information that goods they have supplied pose unacceptable risks to the user or the public. This information can come from customer feedback or product surveillance testing, or as advice from a regulator. A business may also recall goods in New Zealand because they have been recalled overseas.

Compulsory recall

A compulsory recall occurs when a business or individual is ordered to recall unsafe goods by the Minister because they've failed to take appropriate action to mitigate the risks posed by unsafe goods.

See Compulsory product recalls for more information.

Aims of a recall

The main focus of a recall is to:

  • minimise the risk of injury
  • maximise the number of returned faulty products
  • minimise the cost and inconvenience to consumers and businesses.

It's important to get the process right, and be able to monitor how much of the original product has been returned. Depending on the product this may be easy or very difficult.