Amazon is selling hundreds of grocery items which are long past their sell-by-date as fears emerge that its push into the grocery delivery market could exacerbate the issue.
At least 40 per cent of the Amazon’s 100 bestselling food products had more than five customer complaints about goods arriving expired, according to a new report by CNBC.
Its analysis of Amazon’s “Grocery & Gourmet” section also found customers complaining of receiving items more than six-months past their sell-by-date, as well as receiving perishable goods with a “rancid smell”.
Amazon says that its third-party sellers, which now account for more than half of its total sales, are required to guarantee that any items meant for consumption have at least 90 days remaining before their sell-by-date.
“There’s no indication of how well that policy is enforced,” Consumer Federation of America’s director of food policy Thomas Gremillion told the publication.
“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.”
One customer complained of receiving Hostess brownies which were more than a year old, and only receiving a refund after complaining publicly on Twitter, while another told CNBC how she received a box of coffee creamer in which every carton was curdled.
An Amazon spokesperson said in response to the report: “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.
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“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,” adding that sellers found to violate its policies will have their accounts removed or suspended.
Despite using both human and AI algorithms to seek out bad sellers, experts have warned that Amazon needs to do more to tackle the issue.
Former Amazon employee Jon Derkits, who most recently oversaw electronics on Amazon’s Canadian marketplace, said that the retailer still struggled to prevent expired items being shipped.
“They hadn’t yet earned my trust, as either an Amazon employee or a customer, that I would be safe purchasing a consumable or expiration-dated product from a third-party seller,” he said.