Third-party sellers are reportedly using one of the Internet’s largest marketplaces, Amazon, to sell consumers expired food.
CNBC reported that loopholes in Amazon’s logistics system are allowing retailers to sell rotten food —including baby formula, beef jerky, and yogurt—while affording customers very little recourse. Experts who spoke with the news outlet believe the issue will only worsen over time, with food accounting for 58 percent of what is sold through the e-commerce giant.
CNBC elicited the help of a data analytics firm to analyze Amazon Marketplace’s 100 best-selling food products. The firm reportedly found that at least 40 percent of sellers had five or more complaints regarding expired foods.
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Amazon has reportedly also become a hotbed for discontinued foods. For instance, Starbucks-owned brand Teavana, who shuttered in 2017, still has products being sold on Amazon, according to CNBC.
An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC that third-party sellers must provide them with an expiration date and must guarantee the food item has a remaining shelf life of 90 days. However, the news outlet’s report highlighted several low-rated reviews in which users complained of food that was poor quality and near its expiration date.
Further, a customer who received Fiji water claimed they received recycled bottles that were filled with tap water.
Despite this, an Amazon spokesperson explained that the company uses both humans and artificial intelligence to analyze the more than 22 million pieces of customer feedback for product quality and safety issues.
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CNBC noted that customers are faced with a big problem: They typically don’t know whether they’re buying from a large seller, small seller, or Amazon. Sellers who sell perfectly-safe products and those who sell out-of-date items are both competing for Amazon’s “buy box,” or the right side of the website where a customer can automatically buy an item or add it to their cart.
CNBC also reported that Amazon is removing negative reviews if the orders were fulfilled by them. The website’s system will sometimes strikeout reviews and add a note saying, “This item was fulfilled by Amazon, and we take responsibility for this fulfillment experience.”
Amazon can remove items from their site and suspend sellers who violate their policies. The company spokesperson recommended that customers who receive spoiled products contact their customer service department so they can investigate.
“Amazon can remove items from their site and suspend sellers who violate their policies,” the statement reads. “With the A-to-z Guarantee, customers are always protected whether they make a purchase from Amazon or a third-party seller.”
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