• Craig Gedey

Amazon ordered to stop selling pesticides that falsely claim to kill Covid-19

Thompson and Holt managing partner Craig Gedey has welcomed a move by the US Environmental Protection Agency to stop Amazon selling pesticides that falsely claimed to kill coronavirus.

The measure - which also covers eBay - was made last week after products including a disinfectant called “Virus Shut Out” were sold on the platforms, along with chemicals like methylene chloride, which is hazardous and partially banned in America. The EPA order also covered inflated safety claims and false advertising.

An EPA statement read: “These products are unregistered, misbranded, or restricted-use pesticides, and pesticide devices that make false or misleading claims. As two of the largest e-commerce marketplaces, both companies oversee millions of product listings, thru either direct or third-party sales. The products subject to EPA’s orders also include several products that are marketed with false or misleading claims of efficacy against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.”

EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler added: “We remain vigilant against the claims of producers that falsely assert their efficacy and safety. Of particular concern are products that falsely claim to be effective against COVID-19. It is our duty to continue transparent communication with the public on unregistered products that may cause injury to consumers, and immediately remove them from commerce.”

The move follows an earlier EPA settlement with Amazon, which was found to be distributing illegal pesticides. Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and other retailers met with the EPA in April to discuss fraudulent and restricted disinfectant sales, but an agency press release claimed “Amazon and eBay have thus far failed to consistently keep unregistered, misbranded, or restricted-use pesticides, and pesticide devices off their websites.”

Since then both companies have made moves to block the sales of these products, and as yet, they have not been issued fines or other penalties. Thompson and Holt’s Gedey says the EPA move was necessary.

He said: “This has to be welcomed by any ethical Amazon Seller because it is such a key issue at present. While so many of them have seen their businesses badly hit in the current climate, others have been breaking rules or price gouging to try and get ahead.

“But this is more serious than any of those because it is putting people’s health - and even potentially lives - at risk. Amazon has since issue a statement saying they have systems in place to ‘proactively block inaccurate claims about Covid-19’, although it’s clear that some products have slipped through that particular net. They say that those products have now been removed.

“Amazon has rightly faced significantly scrutiny over a wide range of issues during the coronavirus pandemic, some of it from governments, and we’ve even seen reports of manufacturer 3M suing a third-party seller for selling fake N95 masks. For a consumer-led marketplace, it’s absolutely paramount that issues surrounding health and safety are all above board, and everything possible is done to eradicate practises that jeopardise that.”

Protect Your Amazon Seller Account for Free

Thompson and Holt are also offering a free months trial of their Monitor and Protect service to help sellers prevent a suspension of ASINs or an their account during the COVID pandemic, more information on how to protect your Amazon seller account from a suspension can be found here.

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