Third-party vendors utilizing e-commerce platform Amazon are reportedly selling expired food to customers on a regular basis, including expired baby formula.
CNBC reports that third-party vendors on Amazon’s marketplace are selling expired food to customers on a regular basis. The issue has reportedly become so common that brands worried about their firm being viewed in a negative light as a result of their expired products being sold have begun attempting to clean up Amazon’s marketplace themselves.
Many orders from Amazon’s marketplace ranging from baby formula to coffee creamers, beef jerky, and granola bars are arriving spoiled and well past their sell-by date according to customers. A number of interviews with brands, consumers, and third-party sellers appear to point to loophole sin Amazon’s logistics system which allows for expired items to be sold on its marketplace with no accountability.
CNBC scanned the site’s Grocery & Gourmet category, finding customer complaints about expired hot sauce, beef jerky, granola bars, baby formula and baby food, as well as six-month-old Goldfish crackers and a 360-pack of coffee creamer that arrived with a “rancid smell.” A data analytics firm that specializes in the Amazon Marketplace recently analyzed the site’s 100 best-selling food products for CNBC and found that at least 40% of sellers had more than five customer complaints about expired goods.
Closeout sales and liquidation warehouses can be a hotbed for expired food that ends up on Amazon. In 2017, when Starbucks announced it was shuttering its Teavana locations, many sellers purchased discounted tea-related merchandise from the stores and resold it on Amazon. Today, you can find Teavana products such as rock sugar and fruit teas listed on Amazon even though they were discontinued two years ago.
For one Teavana listing, the top customer review says the tea had a “terrible chemical smell” possibly from spoiled fruit. The listing also clearly shows a “not for resale label,” which is alarming, said Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, a consumer advocacy group.
Amazon told CNBC that it has policies in place to ensure that food is safe for consumption, requiring sellers to provide them with an expiration date if they’re selling perishable items and demanding that the items have a remaining shelf life of 90 days. But food-safety experts are questioning if Amazon’s policy is effective or is being enforced correctly.
Thomas Gremillion, director of food policy at advocacy group Consumer Federation of America, commented: “There’s no indication of how well that policy is enforced. Some sellers could be making a business decision to sell expired products and let Amazon catch some of it and toss it out and persist.”
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An Amazon spokesperson commented on the issue stating: “We work hard to make sure customers receive high-quality products when they order from our store. We have robust processes in place to ensure customers receive products with sufficient shelf life. If customers have concerns about items they’ve purchased, we encourage them to contact our Customer Service directly and work with us so we can investigate and take appropriate action.”