Prohibited substances in products on Amazon: what you need to know

Continuing with the topic of “chemicals”. If in the last case we talked about selling pesticides on Amazon, today we will look at the situation where the listing was blocked because of the (allegedly) sale of prohibited substances.

Many amazonians believe that such a blockage puts an end to sales, but we urge not to despair – in the most cases, it is possible to understand the situation and restore sales.

Originsl data: body cream, produced in Ukraine, successfully sold on Amazon in the U.S. and Europe for three years. And suddenly, the listing is blocked because the product contains acid, which is allegedly prohibited for sale in the countries where Amazon operates.

How we unblock a listing accused of selling prohibited substances

Before contacting us, the client checked the composition of his product for compliance with the norms of Ukrainian legislation. The verdict was that all components in the product were safe. The client already had an opinion on this matter.

When the 4B team got involved, we started with a similar audit of the EU and the United States. And in this work we got a lot of help from the World Health Organization (WHO), in the documents of which we found a whole study on the acid that Amazon did not like.

It turned out that this acid is safe according to all WHO standards and is approved for use in creams, and products containing it can be freely sold in all countries, including the US and the EU. But there was one caveat. It turned out that in Britain, relatively recently, it was being reclassified from restricted products to safe substances. And there was a caveat that permission was needed to sell such substances.

It is possible that this was the reason why the client listing was blocked. But, as we made sure – the substance is safe and can be sold without restrictions on all other marketplaces.

The following appeal was drafted, which included: 

  • Regulations on the safety of this substance in Ukraine (recall that the product is produced in Ukraine), these documents were translated into English and the translation was additionally notarized;
  • Data from a WHO study on the safety of the substance;
  • A letter explaining the situation, which included a description of the situation with Britain and a promise on behalf of the customer to monitor the composition of the products sold on Amazon.

Result: the situation was resolved in about a month (data collection and correspondence with Amazon support) and the listing returned to its rightful owner and sales were restored.

Why are these blockages becoming more and more frequent?

As we wrote in our article on pesticides, Amazon’s inadequate control of what is sold on the marketplace was initially to blame. As a result, when goods were found on the marketplace that even contained drugs and hallucinogens, there was an uproar in the press. By the way, here is an article in the Wall Street Journal in which the newspaper called Amazon a “flea market” where there is absolutely no control over what is sold.

Under pressure from the public and consumer protection organizations, environmental agencies and other authorities, Amazon was forced “to tighten the screws” and a wave of blockages began. Harmless creams, shampoos, nutritional supplements and other products with a rich set of chemical elements began to be blocked more and more often.

The Wall Street Journal’s article is preceded by a large picture that shows products sold on Amazon with obvious violations (banned substances, non-compliance with FDA regulations, mislabeling, etc.).

How do you protect yourself from such blockages?

Is it possible to defend yourself 100% against accusations of Amazon selling banned ingredients in their product? Probably not. The situation changes quite often, regulations become stricter, so some of the products that were successfully sold yesterday may be irrevocably blocked tomorrow.

So how do you protect yourself when launching new products?

We recommend a triple check:

  1. Check the substances in the composition of the goods for compliance with the laws of the country of manufacturer (Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, etc.).
  2. Check for compliance with the laws of the country of the marketplace (England, Germany, Spain, Italy, the USA, etc.).
  3. Check for compliance with Amazon rules and policies (Restricted Products, Category, and Content Restrictions).

You should be especially cautious about goods belonging to closed categories. You should understand that they are closed for a reason, most precisely because of the possible sale of counterfeit and potentially dangerous goods. We have already written in our blog about the closed categories on Amazon, we recommend reading this material.

A list of useful links to illegal items and components on Amazon

Here is a small list of links to Amazon’s prohibited goods. We hope it will make your search easier.

Conclusions

Always remember that it is easier to prevent a listing from being blocked by researching all the possible restrictions for a given product beforehand than by appealing and fighting with Amazon’s support. Our case turned out to be successful, but it does not always come out like that.

Check items before they are shipped to Amazon. Moreover, if you get in trouble with a blocked listing or account, we will deal with it and do everything we can to get your listing or account back and restore sales.

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