Brazil: New Regulation On Food Recall And The Government's Food Protection Policy

The consumer's concern with the food safety is a widely debated topic in social media nowadays. On this subject, the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA - Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária) approved last June 2 the Collegiate Board of Directors' Resolution RDC no. 24 on food recall and how ANVISA and consumers must be given notice of it.

Aiming at strengthening health surveillance of foods and following the recommendations by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the WHO, the Brazilian agency sets criteria and procedures for food recall.

The targets are non-processed food, beverages, bottled water, food ingredients, raw products, food additives, additive manufacturing technologies, packages and other materials directly touching the food.

The resolution determines the market withdrawal of food batches that might potentially adversely affect the consumer's well-being or result in aggravation and risk of harming the health of one or more persons of the population.

Food companies will be given time to adapt to the new resolution, as RDC nº 24 was made available on the Federal Government's Official Gazette on June 09 and is enforceable 180 days after publication, December 07, 2015 to be precise.

According to Brazilian Code of Consumer Protection, the companies are required to take off the shelves batches of products that pose risk to or aggravate consumer's health, and such fact results in the immediate suspension of the sale of such products and their withdrawal from market.

The flowchart below shows how the food recall is made:

Reproduction of a table prepared by Meliore Consultoria

Among the innovations brought by the resolution, it is worth mentioning the companies' obligation to have a prior product Recall Plan that is accessible to the employees involved therein and available to the sanitary authority upon request.

In order to ensure a more effective withdrawal, the traceability of the products must be assured by means of registrations identifying the preceding and subsequent company in the production chain and giving a detailed description of the products subject to the recall that are received and distributed, so the largest number possible of products may be recovered, even if they are already in possession of a consumer.

To that purpose, all companies in the production chain involved in the withdrawal are required to take precautions necessary to make the action feasible.

This initiative is an important demonstration of the State's rulemaking power clearly aiming at preventing the population from being contaminated by countless diseases due poor preservation of food and ensuring a more effective protection of the food quality intended for humans, i.e. food safety.

According to the WHO's estimate, every year two million people die from food contamination, including liquids such as water. Figures as shocking as the one above motivated ANVISA to controlling more closely companies in food production and distribution.

The WHO Director General gave a press release1 emphasizing that food production has been undergoing a heavy processing system for the last years, which is the outcome of a global scale distribution supplying a market that is practically global and that such changes allows food contamination by bacteria, viruses, parasites and chemicals.

Following the procedure adopted in recalls under the consumer laws, such as recalls in the carmaking and toy industries, for example, the new regulation provides that the company is required to broadcast an alert message, diligently prepared to be clear and objective, to consumers on different media.

According to ANVISA, failure to comply with the new rules constitutes violation of sanitary laws, a transgression punishable with the closing of the business establishment, cancellation of the operation permit, fine and mandatory removal of the products.

This initiative will surely contribute to drastically reduce the health problems arising from poor preservation of food sold by the companies in this business, which for the ordinary consumer is translated as higher reliability on the food market, increased safety and more life quality.

Footnote

1. see UOL - http://m.jc.ne10.uol.com.br/canal/mundo/internacional/noticia/2015/04/07/oms-estima-2-milhoes-de-mortes-por-comida-e-agua-contaminadas-175592.php

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