Thousands of products listed for sale on Amazon that federal agencies declared unsafe or banned were deceptively labeled, The Wall Street Journal found.
The Journal’s investigation found 4,152 products, including 2,000 toys and medications, for sale on Amazon would be banned or correctly labeled on regular U.S. store shelves due to their health risks.
Amazon removed or altered wording for 57% of the listings after the Journal brought attention to their safety risks. Within two weeks, however, at least 130 items with the same policy violations returned to the site, some listed by the same sellers the Journal previously identified.
For months, the @WSJ has been working on an investigation of unsafe products on Amazon. The results are sobering and should change how you shop on Amazon.
— Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) August 23, 2019
An Amazon spokesperson said the retail giant removed the items and “refined” its tools “to prevent them from being offered in our store,” adding, “There are bad actors that attempt to evade our systems,” and “should one ever slip through, we work quickly to take action on the seller and protect customers.”
Of the 4,152 products, there were at least 157 items Amazon had previously said it banned, including sleeping mats the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeled unsafe because it can suffocate infants.
There were also 116 products falsely labeled as “FDA-approved,” including 98 eyelash growth serums, 43 painkiller listings without proper FDA warnings, 52 supplements the FDA and Justice Department found contain illegally imported prescription drugs, 1,412 electronics listings falsely labeled as UL certified, and 2,324 toys lacked warnings.
A @WSJ investigation found 4,152 items for sale on Amazon’s site that have been declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labeled or are banned by federal regulators. Important @AlexandraBerzon @shaneshifflett @ScheckWSJ story: https://t.co/D0TFWPxBVB
— Newley Purnell (@newley) August 23, 2019
“Safety is a top priority at Amazon,” a spokeswoman told the publication. “When a concern arises, we move quickly to protect customers and work directly with sellers, brands, and government agencies.”
Amazon scans hundreds of millions of items every few minutes using automated tools to screen potential sellers and block suspicious ones from listing products on the site. The tool blocked 3 billion items in 2018, the spokeswoman added.
The site had 2.5 million vendors with items listed in 2018, the Journal reported Friday, citing Marketplace Pulse.
By Audrey Conklin
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