Recall of alcoholic beverages
If a manufacturer or wholesaler of alcoholic beverages has reason to believe that an alcoholic beverage it sells does not comply with food safety requirements, the manufacturer or wholesaler must immediately take action to withdraw the product from the market.
In the event of the recall of a product, the manufacturer or wholesaler of alcoholic beverages is obligated to do the following:
- Withdraw the product from the market (recall).
- Inform the control authority (Valvira) of the recall.
- Inform consumers about the defective product and the reason for the recall, as well as how products can be returned (e.g. ‘return to the place of purchase’).
The licence holder must carry out an assessment of the risk arising from the consumption of the unsafe food. The assessment should be conservative, i.e. assess the risks according to the worst-case scenario. Valvira’s task is to evaluate the risk assessment and to collaborate with the licence holder.
There can be many reasons for a product recall. For example, a failure to declare an ingredient that causes allergies is grounds for a recall in most cases. Other examples of reasons why a product may have to be recalled include a high level of contaminants or a serious error in composition. If necessary, Valvira will ensure that the recall has been carried out and the products have been removed from stores and serving locations.
As a food business operator, the manufacturer/wholesaler of alcoholic beverages is responsible for the recall, repair or destruction of products withdrawn from the market. Depending on the defect, the products may be changed to comply with the regulations (e.g. by adding the ingredient causing allergies in the label), used for non-food purposes or destroyed.
The operator must immediately notify Valvira of the recall by submitting a completed recall notification. Valvira will take a position on the adequacy of the planned recall. If necessary, Valvira will prepare a notice for its website and inform the other EU member states through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).
To prevent harm to consumers, the operator must publish a newspaper announcement and prepare and submit a press release to the Finnish News Agency STT at toimitus(at)stt.fi. The notice and the newspaper announcement must name the product, indicate the product batch in question and describe the defect. As a general rule, if the product is marketed throughout Finland, the announcement must be published in all the country’s Finnish- and Swedish-language main newspapers. If the product is only marketed in certain regions, newspapers in these regions may be used. In the notification of the recall, the operator must provide Valvira with an explanation of how the company intends to handle the notification to consumers.