Amazon has been hit with a lawsuit for selling products that contain donkey meat.
The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Contemporary Equine Studies, which says that the retail giant is illegally selling products that contain “ejiao.”
Ejiao, also sometimes referred to as “gelatina nigra,” is a form of gelatin made using the skin of donkeys. It can be used in a range of products from food to beauty products.
The sale of eijao violates California’s animal welfare law. Walmart and eBay have already pledged to remove any products containing the gel and stop selling it moving forward.
The Center for Contemporary Equine Studies argues that Amazon’s sales are potentially contributing to the skinning of millions of donkeys every year.
According to a report from Wired, “every year, millions of donkeys are slaughtered and skinned to make the so-called gelatina nigra found in Cindy’s dietary supplement. More commonly called ‘ejiao’ or ‘donkey-hide gelatin,’ the animal product is made from donkey skin. It’s in such high demand due to its alleged health benefits that it’s decimating the global donkey population and has led to increasingly brutal treatment of the animals, according to a 2019 report by the Donkey Sanctuary, an advocacy organization. A video the organization obtained shows workers in Tanzania bludgeoning donkeys with hammers to meet their slaughter quotas. ‘It’s not herbal. It’s literally made with donkeys,’ says Cindy, who asked to go by only her first name for privacy reasons. ‘Why would Amazon sell something that cruel?'”
The lawsuit against Amazon points to the 1998 law called the Prohibition of Horse Slaughter and Sale of Horsemeat for Human Consumption Act.
“The complaint demands that Amazon stop selling ejiao immediately. If a judge ultimately finds Amazon in violation of the law, the state of California could fine Amazon for each sale,” the Wired report continued. “This type of regulatory pressure is not unprecedented. In 2018, prosecutors in three California counties accused Amazon of violating a 2004 state law banning sales of foie gras. In a settlement, Amazon agreed not to sell the fatty goose liver in California and paid $100,000 in civil penalties.”
Amazon does have policies of not allowing the purchase of illegal products to banned regions but appears to have missed eijao.
“Amazon is a big company that has tons of resources. With that position comes responsibility, and if it seems like they aren’t abiding by state laws, then clearly they need to do better,” says Teresa Murray, director of the Consumer Watchdog Program at the nonprofit Public Interest Research Group. “It’s their job to know the law.”