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Coming soon: product recall notices via Twitter

Australian food suppliers may soon be required by law to communicate more frequently and directly to consumers by means of tailored communication methods such as social media and blogging, if new ACCC recommendations are followed.

In a recently report released, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has analysed the way consumers are informed about product recalls and proposes significant changes in this area. The report, titled Review of the Australian Product Safety Recall System, highlights the fact that consumers are often unaware of product recalls because the information is simply not reaching consumers.

Over the past 23 years, there have been more than 10,000 recalls (across all categories) and in 2009 there were 779 recalls in Australia, some involving many thousands of products. Product recalls are an extremely important part of the Australian consumer product safety system, however, consumer responses to product recalls have varied widely and "in some cases have been nearly non-existent," ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell said today.

"The report gives a blueprint for changes to the recalls system, particularly about how consumers are alerted to recalls, with the aim of increasing awareness and recall response rates, according to ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell in the International Business Times.

"The report recommends suppliers be expected to develop recall communication plans that target consumers based on demographics and communication preferences, including making greater use of social media and online forms of communication such as websites and blogs to advertise product recalls.

"There is a real need for suppliers to implement tailored communications strategies in the event of a recall. The days of relying just on newspaper advertisements as the major method of communication are past." News of the report was broadcast via a series of Tweets, blogs, direct e-mailing, and a new widget that will soon be available on relevant websites.

An electronic version of the publication is available at no cost on the ACCC website.

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