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Is it safe to buy edibles on Etsy?

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Most people wouldn’t bat an eyelash at purchasing homemade art, clothing, or furniture on Etsy. But when it comes to products that have direct contact with the body, like food and soaps, how safe is it?

Buying edibles or bath products on Etsy brings a slew of new factors into a patron’s considerations. Is the shop licensed? Which chemicals are sellers using? Do these products contain food or skin allergens? How do I know I won’t get sick?

These questions and more were the subject of a hot topic in the Etsy forums Sunday night. Both customers and sellers weighed in on product safety.

Unfortunately, the answer is never clear cut—for products on or off Etsy.

“I think a lot of people would be surprised how little regulation there actually is in the food industry,” wrote Brandi. “For example, factories have an ‘acceptable’ level of cockroach parts that are allowed to be present in food items.”

When that’s the sort of regulation governments put into the food industry, it's up to consumers to do their homework. Sellers encouraged potential buyers to check for three pieces of information in a food, bath, or body shop in Etsy.

1) Check for licenses 

  • Most Etsy shops will list licenses in their descriptions, if they have them. “If they are properly licensed then it's no more risky than eating at a new restaurant or buying a food product in the grocery store,” wrote SnugBugClothing

2) Check for feedback

  • If other customers have left comments that say the product made them sick, steer clear of that store. “The stuff you buy down at your local fair or farmers market is just as likely to be bad, or good,” wrote Jessica Cox. “I actually think the stuff online is likely safer because of feedback.”

3) Check the ingredients 

  • Users—especially users with allergies—should check the list of ingredients in each product. If the shop does not list ingredients, do not shop there. “I sell soap and body products and all of the ingredients are listed right in the listing,” wrote Jessica O’Leary. “Same goes for edibles... people have allergies. If there is something you are interested in, just check their feedback and read through the ingredients.”

If all three checks are to the customer’s liking, sellers agree that it’s no less safe to purchase than anything made in a factory.

“Assuming that the shop is properly licensed, has passed inspection, and has great feedback, I would [buy something],” wrote Corrie. “I really don't find it any different than walking into a restaurant. If I see their health score is low, I walk out the door.”

Photo by Siona Karen