Read This Before Buying Recalled Food Online

Before you probably even began reading this, you saw the headline and wondered, "What sort of situation am I in where I consider buying recalled food?" While there's no logical situation in which you'll find yourself craving a can of tuna that was recalled for being a breeding ground for bacteria, for example, you'd be surprised to know that there are some people with a bizarre, sometimes morbid hobby.

There are folks who'll buy chicken nuggets in the shape of video game characters (via Complex), Cheetos in the shape of Harambe the gorilla and Kate Winslet (via Food Beast), and, yes, even recalled foods. Per Reddit's r/delusionalcraigslist, someone once sold an unopened jar of Peter Pan-brand peanut butter that was sold during the brand's 2007 salmonella recall, with the recalled bar code listed as a selling point.

Of course, it may be weird and possibly even a waste of money to buy recalled food. But, really, what's the harm in some folks paying for a 15-year-old jar of peanut butter-flavored salmonella to put on their shelf? According to the FDA, it's not just an absurd waste of time and money, it's illegal, too.

The U.S. government and eBay forbid selling recalled food

The Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act regulates the selling of food items such as recalled peanut butter. The law clearly states that "the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food, drug, device, tobacco product, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded" or any sale, marketing, or purchase of an unsafe food product is prohibited (via FindLaw).

eBay's own product safety policy forbids the selling of recalled or unsafe items on their market. If someone is caught selling a recalled or other unsafe item, the user's listing could be canceled, their seller rate lowered, or in worse cases, their account suspended without reimbursement of sold items or profit made from a sold item. Strangely, even a policy as clear as this doesn't prevent people from selling expired or generally unsuitable items for human use. An Ontario man in 2018 once attempted to sell a McDonald's hamburger and fries for $29.99 on eBay (via CBC) — a hamburger and fries he had purchased six years ago and let sit on a shelf until the meal had "petrified" until eBay took down the user's listing. If you're thinking about selling or buying some expired food from Craigslist or eBay, maybe you ought to reconsider what you're doing.