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General Principles of Food Hygiene, Composition and Labelling
8 - Complaint Handling and Recalls

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8.1 Complaint Handling

8.1.1 Product Complaints

The establishment has an effective system for handling and investigating complaints.


Product complaints are important indicators of possible deficiencies in manufacturing controls and/or deficiencies in the distribution handling system. When the complaint handling system itself is deficient, it could result in failure to identify and eliminate risks.

Assessment Criteria

  • The manufacturer has a system to handle and investigate product complaints, which identifies the person or persons responsible for receiving, evaluating, categorizing and/or investigating complaints.
  • Complaints are accurately categorized according to safety, composition and other regulatory concerns.
  • Potentially serious complaints are forwarded immediately to appropriate personnel for action.
  • Safety and contamination complaints are investigated by appropriately trained technical personnel.
  • Examination of the complainant's specimen, the retail product or other product of the same code is conducted on complaints related to food safety.
  • Complaints pertaining to composition, fraud and other regulatory concerns are investigated in an effective manner.
  • The depth of the investigation is appropriate to the risk and similar complaint trends.
  • Appropriate corrective action is taken for deviations identified during the investigation.

See Section 7.6.1 - Complaint Records.

8.2 Recalls

8.2.1 Recall Procedure

Every manufacturer of a food establishes a written procedure to permit the complete, rapid recall of any lot of food from the market.

Assessment Criteria

  • The written procedure identifies the person or persons responsible (e.g. recall coordinators) and the roles and responsibilities of those who coordinate and implement a recall.
  • The procedure specifies methods to identify, locate and control recalled product, and includes a requirement to investigate other products that may be affected by the hazard and should be included in the recall.
  • The procedure requires that the recall be monitored to assess its effectiveness (e.g. an effectiveness check is conducted to the appropriate level of distribution specified in the recall notice).
  • The CFIA is immediately notified in the region where the manufacturer is located. This notification includes the following:
    • the amount of product produced, the amount in inventory and the amount distributed;
    • the name, size, code or lot numbers of the recalled product;
    • the area in which the product was distributed (e.g. local, national, international); and
    • the reason for the recall.

See Section 7.6.2 - Distribution Records

8.2.2 Recall Capability

Recall procedures are tested periodically to verify the manufacturer's capability to rapidly identify and remove product from the market.

Assessment Criteria

  • The manufacturer demonstrates the capability to provide accurate information on a timely basis, in order to verify that all affected product can be rapidly identified and removed from the marketplace. For example:
    • the manufacturer conducts periodic testing (i.e. mock recall) to verify the capability of the procedure to rapidly identify and control a code lot of potentially affected product, and to reconcile the amount of product produced with the amount in inventory and the amount in distribution;
    • the manufacturer identifies and corrects any deficiencies in the recall procedure.
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