Once again, the Amazon pesticide restriction bot is terrorizing sellers across the platform. A new round of pesticide restriction warning emails has been popping up in sellers inboxes concerning everything from shoes to shower curtains:

“We are contacting you because you selected the following under the Pesticide Marking attribute for one or more of the ASINs linked at the end of this message: “This product is not a pesticide or pesticide device, as defined under the U.S. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.”

We have reviewed further and have determined that one or more of your ASINs were correctly identified as a pesticide or are making claims on the product detail page that the EPA defines as “pesticide claims”. We have removed or will remove these products from the website until the pending actions on these products meet the compliance standards.” (Excerpt from Amazon email to seller)

Or another email being received:

“We are writing to let you know that the following detail pages have been removed from our catalog:

(ASIN information removed)

This product has been identified as a pesticide product, pesticide device, or a product that contains pesticidal claims. To be considered for reinstatement, please provide evidence of an EPA Registration number and/or EPA Establishment number or a certification that the product is exempt from EPA regulations. You will need to provide this information in the Pesticide Marking attribute for the listing.”  (Excerpt from Amazon email to seller)

And sellers are once again rolling their eyes, taking a deep breath, and rolling up their sleeves to adjust their listings to avoid restrictions. So, let us dig into the who and why of this issue plaguing Amazon sellers.

FIFRA. That is the who: The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) stipulates strict requirements about what is considered a pesticide. These include (1) “conventional” pesticides, such as insecticides or herbicides, (2) pesticide devices that control pests through non-chemical means, and (3) any product claiming to prevent, kill, destroy, mitigate, remove, repel, or take any other similar action against any type of pest is considered a pesticide product.

So, while our knee jerk reaction is become frustrated with Amazon, understand that Amazon didn’t make this rule just to make your life difficult. The EPA made Amazon voluntarily regulate products that could potentially be pesticides. It’s all part of a massive settlement regarding illegal importing, selling, and marketing of products (some were lethally toxic). This fell under the US Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Since non-US violators are untouchable, Amazon and 3rd-party sellers in the Marketplace bear the consequences for those that broke these rules. That is the why.

To sell Pesticides and Pesticide Devices on Amazon.com, you must be a resident of the USA and complete an eLearning and related test (with a passing grade of 80% or better).

How to Avoid Pesticide Restriction Bots on Your Amazon Listings

There are millions of listings on the platform and to comply Amazon had to develop an automated process to identify items which may be out of compliance. Enter the dreaded Amazon Pesticide Listing Restriction Bot (insert horror movie music here). Even though you and I both know that shower curtain is not a pesticide, the Amazon bot does not.

The bot scours listings on the platform for words and phrases that may relate to a pesticide product:

Some common pesticide claims include:

  • Prevents, blocks, removes, neutralizes, or controls bacteria or other pests
  • Sanitizes, disinfects, or sterilizes
  • Resists mildew
  • Removes or prevents mold

In addition to these claims, there is a very broad range of products that are also identified as pesticides by FIFRA due to specific terms used in describing the product. A few examples of these less common claims are the following:

  • A doorknob claiming to resist bacteria
  • Socks or shoes that claim antimicrobial properties
  • A boat or automobile cover claiming to prevent mildew
  • A mattress claiming to be antibacterial
  • A dehumidifier claiming to mechanically prevent mold
  • A pillow case claiming to be resistant to dust mites
  • A “mildew resistant” shower curtain

**excerpt taken directly from an email from Amazon to a seller on the platform.

See what happens there? Using common phrases to describe attributes of your product could cause a pesticide listing restriction on even that shower curtain, shoes, mattresses, and a host of other common household products. So, bacteria are now a pest. Pesky perhaps, but most likely not classified as a pest by the average human.

To avoid having your listing restricted, avoid these and many, many other commonly used phrases to describe the attributes of the item if it is in fact not a pesticide. If these phrases are in your non-pesticide listings, remove them.

If your listing has already been restricted or ‘locked’, to get it selling again you will have to watch the pesticide course video and take a test.

To sell Pesticides and Pesticide Devices on Amazon.com, you must be a resident of the USA and complete an eLearning and related test (with a passing grade of 80% or better).

If you are not selling pesticides and pesticide devices make sure your product descriptions avoid words that might appear to look like you are.

We have compiled a list of the phrases we are currently aware of and those supplied by Amazon that may cause your listing to be restricted. You can download it here.

EPA orders Amazon to halt illegal pesticides sales   (EPA News Release Published 2/08/2021)