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Expired food regularly being sold on Amazon through 3rd-party vendors, report says

Posted at 1:18 PM, Oct 21, 2019

SEATTLE, Wash. – Expired food is regularly being sold on Amazon and some are concerned the company isn’t doing enough to stop it.

CNBC looked into the distribution of products past their sell-by dates and found customers complaining about several items, including baby formula, granola bars, coffee creamer, chips and other junk foods. Some of the products sold were more than a year past their expiration date.

While most expired items aren’t being bought from Amazon itself, CNBC reports that third-party vendors are using loopholes in the tech giant’s technology and logistics system to distribute the expired products through the website with little to no accountability.

When CNBC reached out to Amazon about the policies that vendors must comply with, the company said sellers are required to supply them with an expiration date if they’re selling an item meant for consumption and must guarantee the item has a remaining shelf life of 90 days. However, experts tell CNBC there’s no indication of how well Amazon’s policy is being enforced.

When CNBC brought a number of expired products to Amazon’s attention, the company told them it took corrective action to make sure the listings were in line with its standards. Amazon went on to say that they were isolated incidents that didn’t require enforcement action against the sellers or removal of any products. CNBC says many of those products continue to receive complaints that they’re expired, with some showing negative reviews posted as recently as this week.

Amazon says it uses a combination of humans and artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor the massive amount of customer feedback on its platform.

“We work hard to make sure customers receive high-quality products when they order from our store,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement sent to CNBC.

“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,” the spokesperson added.

Consultants tell CNBC Amazon needs to rely on more than just customer complaints and refunds to catch expired food, arguing that the company should devise stronger strategies to police the platform more effectively.

Beyond Amazon’s website, the company also recently spent $13.7 billion to acquire Whole foods, which makes them an even bigger player in the grocery business. CNBC argues that if Amazon doesn’t clean up its listings on the e-commerce site, the company risks losing the trust of its customers.

Click here to read Amazon's full statement on the matter.