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What Is Trader Joe’s Hiding?

The answer to that question is easy – A LOT.

A family member does this little game with me and it happens over and over. After trying a bite of something that looks homemade, I say, “Mmm where did you get this from?” and she says, “Don’t worry, it’s from Trader Joe’s, so it’s organic.” The fact that people assume all products from Trader Joe’s are organic or healthy or better than what you would find elsewhere is an alarming misconception.

For the last several months, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Trader Joe’s. Many people are questioning the grocery store chain’s policies on genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs) and asking if I personally trust their statements about the use of GMOs in their store brand products – my short answer is no, I don’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE shopping at Trader Joe’s. It’s fun, the employees are super nice and helpful and it’s a pleasant experience. However, they won’t share any information with us and are completely cloaked in secrecy regarding their business practices, which makes my head want to explode.

Trader Joe’s Official GMO Statement:

Our approach to Genetically Modified Organisms is simple: we do not allow GMO ingredients in our private label products (anything with Trader Joe’s, Trader Jose’s, Trader Ming’s, etc. on the label).

 

Given what Trader Joe’s tells us about their GMO policy, we should trust them, right? Or are we trusting them just like many consumers trusted Naked Juice, Tostitos, Kashi, Gold Fish, Barbara’s Bakery, etc. who are or have been faced with lawsuits finding suspected GMOs in their so-called “natural” products?

During my research, I found out there is no regular independent third party certifier verifying their products are non-GMO on a regular basis at Trader Joe’s. It is completely up to Trader Joe’s product supply team to regulate GMOs from suppliers – not the Non-GMO Project or the USDA (for organics) that requires a high level of standards and third party testing before stating a product can be deemed free of GMOs. If there are complaints about a product, Trader Joe’s will conduct verification with a secret third party that they won’t disclose, but it’s completely up to the consumer to alert Trader Joe’s with a complaint.

In fact, Trader Joe’s stated that their products “don’t allow for auditing using the Non-GMO Project because there is an additional cost associated with that.” A representative from Trader Joe’s went on to say, “We tend to not label our products a whole lot, and won’t until there is a government regulation to understand what non-GMO even means, we aren’t going to label products that don’t have specific FDA guidelines.” So this begs the question – what does non-GMO mean to Trader Joe’s? Are they making up their own definition because they claim they don’t have direction from a governmental official?

I reached out to the Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project, Megan Westgate, to find why Trader Joe’s refuses to become Non-GMO certified. This is what she said:

“The Non-GMO Project has reached out to Trader Joe’s a number of times over the years, and we remain hopeful that at some point we will be able to forge a meaningful partnership with them. To date, it has been very difficult to ascertain the credibility of their non-GMO claims. We know that many consumers believe Trader Joe’s to be a GMO-free store, but without transparent standards or third-party verification this is impossible to confirm. Many other retailers–independent grocers, co-ops, and Whole Foods Market–are leading the way by requiring rigorous testing and labeling, and it would be great to see Trader Joe’s follow suit.”

TraderJoesProductsGMOs

Trader Joe’s says they review affidavits (the documents that prove an ingredient is not made or contaminated with GMOs) from their suppliers who make their store branded products, but there is no way to verify this. I asked Trader Joe’s if they would send me an affidavit showing proof of non-GMO corn or soy in at least one of their products that wasn’t labeled certified organic and they refused saying, “Unfortunately we don’t share those documents, they are confidential.” They wouldn’t even tell me what country some of the products were produced in either as they do not provide “country of origin” labeling.

I find the denial of my request maddening, considering I requested a similar affidavit from Honest Tea, who is owned by Coca Cola, and they completely complied and sent me the information with the confidential suppliers name blacked out. Heineken Beer also provided their affidavits when I asked them to prove to me they use no genetically modified ingredients in their beer.

Furthermore, when I reached out to the Director of the Cornucopia Institute (the top organic industry watchdog group), Mark Kastel, he stated:

“It is very hard to figure out sourcing with Trader Joe’s.  They heavily depend on private label products which are based on secrecy.  We have said that private-label organics is an “oxymoron.”  Organic consumers want to know “the story behind their food.”  They want to know where it was produced, how it was produced, how the animals and workers involved have been treated, etc.  None of that is possible with Trader Joe’s. Unlike the majority of all responsible brand marketers in organics they have refused to participate in our research studies and are thus rated very poorly on our scorecards that critique dairy foods, eggs and soy foods (etc.)”

 

We have the right to know where our food comes from and what’s in it and Trader Joe’s is refusing to give us this information.

They don’t want us to know which suppliers they are using because it would upset consumers and their suppliers if we knew the truth. For example, Stoneyfield supplies yogurt for Trader Joe’s and Stacey’s (owned by Pepsi) supplies their pita chips. Because Trader Joe’s maintains a limited supply of products, they can buy many of the same items in bulk from different suppliers keeping costs low, which is fabulous, but this comes at a cost of not actually knowing who is manufacturing our food. They keep it secret because the companies they work with, like Stacey’s, don’t want you to know that you can buy their pita chips two dollars less at Trader Joe’s under a private label. This is how Trader Joe’s has become so successful, growing at a faster pace than Whole Foods.

Trader Joes Same Company

There is another disappointing side effect of not knowing where your food comes from because if you are like me and boycott certain companies because of their business practices, it is extremely hard to vote with your dollars and know which products to buy and support. For this reason, if you want to REALLY vote with your dollars, you seriously need to consider what you are buying at Trader Joe’s. 

I have a hard time trusting a company that is not willing to show their affadavits to a customer or prove that their products are in fact GMO free. Trader’s Joe’s won’t spend any of their 8 billion dollars in sales to test and prove their products safe. And they won’t tell us what companies they work with to develop their products or what countries their ingredients come from. Have you noticed that every single Trader Joe’s branded product has “DIST & SOLD EXCLUSIVELY BY: TRADER JOE’S MONROVIA, CA 91016” written on the back? I hope we are smart enough to know the entire line of Trader Joe’s products aren’t all really from California.

label

Since Trader Joe’s does provide a price point that is unrivaled, I can see the financial benefit to shopping there, but not much else. Their fruits and vegetables are usually flown in from half way across the world, packaged in lots of plastic, providing little to no local produce (at least in my store here in Charlotte, NC). This means you could be eating nutritionally degraded produce. I have been a victim to this more than once when I bought produce that I didn’t know was less than stellar and it went bad super fast in my fridge compared to the local produce I get from my farmer or buy from other grocery stores.

Considering Trader Joe’s total lack of transparency, there’s only a limited list of products I would personally trust from Trader Joe’s, here’s what I would buy and not buy:

WHAT TO BUY AT TRADER JOE’S

  • Certified organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds
  • Certified organic branded Trader Joe’s products (USDA certified), for example their organic popcorn made with olive oil is a good choice
  • Certified organic milk products
  • Certified organic coffee and teas (like Yogi tea)
  • Certified organic frozen goods like frozen berries
  • Some conventional items on occasion (like kimchi) that do not have high-risk GMO crop ingredients like corn, soy, cottonseed, papaya, sugar, canola, zucchini/squash (here’s a full list of potential GMO ingredients)
  • Paper products – they use environmentally friendly practices and recycled paper

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WHAT NOT TO BUY AT TRADER JOE’S

  • Charles Shaw Wine, otherwise known as “2 buck chuck” – It’s so poor in quality, some experts call this stuff “grape-flavored soda” and compare it to what “Ronald McDonald is to the cheeseburger.” This wine is not made in a winery rather, “this wine is made in a factory, with a lot of synthetic and concentrated products, like grape musk, added to manipulate the flavors from bad grapes.” (Stick to organic wine with no detected or added sulfites)
  • Non-Trader Joe’s brands that likely contain GMO ingredients like Simply Lite, Reddi Egg, Dare, Orangina, The Laughing Cow, Morningstar, Toffutti, Think Thin Bars, Toblerone, Kashi, Barbara’s Bakery, Annie Chun’s and Power Crunch
  • Trader Joe’s branded products or other processed products that contain high-risk GMO crop ingredients like corn, soy, cottonseed, papaya, sugar, canola, zucchini/squash (A majority of their products contain one or more of these ingredients, until they can be fully transparent, I would not trust them.)
  • Pre-packaged meals like sandwiches, salads, and sushi – many of these items contain ingredients you definitely don’t want to be eating,  like cellulose (wood pulp), or imitation crab meat. Additionally, there’s way too much sodium added to these meals and they can give you a serious case of water-weight bloat and bubble gut.
  • Trader Joe’s branded dairy, yogurt, or eggs, because they are likely produced from animals fed GMO corn and soy and can contain antibiotics
  • Non Trader Joe’s branded dairy, yogurt, or eggs because they could contain (cancer causing) rBST growth hormone, GMOs and antibiotics
  • Non-organic meat or dairy, Trader Joe’s still allows antibiotics and other harmful chemicals – like autolyzed yeast extract (a hidden form of MSG) in their meat.

The most important thing to remember when shopping at Trader Joe’s or anywhere else for that matter, is to read the ingredient lists. Trader Joe’s still allows harmful petroleum- based artificial coloring, artificial flavors, carrageenan, and other questionable ingredients to creep into their stores via other brands and this is something to definitely watch out for.

licorice

If you know someone who shops at Trader Joe’s, please share this post with them. Making smart decisions together is the only way we are going to change the secretive practices of the food industry.

Keep Your Chin Up!

Food Babe

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get more info about what’s really in our food, personal updates from me and chances to win cool organic stuff.

 

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1,120 responses to “What Is Trader Joe’s Hiding?

  1. I owned a business that supplied meat marinades and spices to wholesale packing houses. One of our customers packed tri tips and other beef for Trader Joe’s. We went through a round of testing, Trader Joe’s liked the product but needed it to last for 45 days once packaged. I explained that we couldn’t do that while keeping the product natural and without preservatives. Their answer was to give me a list of preservatives that the FDA would allow us to label as salt. Haven’t trusted their labeling since!

    1. I lived in FL before I moved to CA and some people told me (since I was into healthy food) that I will love Trader Joe’s. So I moved, I visited once the store, but I didn’t like what I found. I did not trust their label, it was just any other commercial brand, only that Trader Joe’s name was on it. If it didn’t say organic I didn’t buy. It is exactly like shopping to Ralphs or other average grocery stores. For some reason, they branded well and their name equals healthy in lots of people’s mind. This article is great pointing out exactly what I felt when I visited TJ’s.

    2. I’ve been semi cautious for a while with TJ’s. Started with my knowledge of the amount of GMO corn around. Had a local farmer tell me very hard to find corn that has not been tainted. Breaks my heart that more and more you can trust people less and less. Thank you FB for being an Advocate.

      1. I would not even trust Organic corn. There is something that is not right with it when it is popped. You will find that there are lots of seed that is not popped all the way and hard. Years ago this never happened. When you buy a bag of packaged popcorn it is the same way. I would if I were you stop eating corn all together. It just is not worth it. Corn is not all that nutritous anyway from what I understand.

      1. Don’t trust WF w/o reading labels. read article recently saying up to 75% GMO there. also, look at the Oct 10, 2013 comment about TJ’s and ‘salt’. we are being forced to grow our own. due to current and coming restrictions, the best thing i have found is a small indoor aquaponics system that NO ONE knows you have. (that includes where you buy parts and fish food). initial setup is high, but after that, cost AND WORK is minimal.

      2. I agree with Shari. I just read an article about WFM also having GMO’s. You really have to be careful what you buy. I used to spend a lot of money going to WFM. Now I’m very careful what I purchase.

    3. THANKS FOR THE ARTICLE. I AM NEW TO THIS ORGANIC NO-GMO DIET but serious as I just survived colon cancer (age 52) and dont want to grow another tumor. I have been shopping at Whole Foods as I learn. A new Trader Joe just opened near by and my 21yr old suggested we try as his friends like the store. Interesting. College kids want to wear the ‘healthy” label but not work at it. But I agree with Foodbabe, secrecy in labeling is an oxymoron and tells the story, Right?! It was fun shopping at Trader Joe’s but I will return to Whole Food since they are open about their labeling and their staff is extremely knowledgable and quick to point out any shortcomings in a products ability to meet organic and non-gmo claims.

    4. Clint your response gave me pause. The FDA allows labeling ‘non-salt’ preservatives as ‘Salt’? Can we trust labeling, then? Please provide the preservative suggestion list you received from Trader Joe’s that FDA allows to label as ‘salt.’

    5. Where is this list? I searched extensively through FDA labeling guidelines and see NO OTHER preservatives that can be labeled as salt. NONE. Provide some info here or this is just quackery.

  2. Sounds like typical Trader Joe’s behavior. They refuse to be listed on the HRC’s LGBT-friendly companies (thus receiving a low rating despite actually being pretty darn LGBT-friendly) because “it takes too long to fill out paperwork, and everyone already knows how open we are.” I emailed their HR directly to ask about this, and that is the response I received. They also resisted for quite a while to sign a formal agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and support their Fair Food Program because, Trader Joe’s assured us, they already use fair food practices, so why sign a paper that makes it official? Why not sign it? And if being known as LGBT-friendly is important to your company, why not fill out the stupid paper that freely advertises you as such?

    1. It doesn’t make sense that a company needs to be on the HRC’s LGBT-friendly companies list in order to be LGBT-friendly.

      Trader Joe’s may not want to jump into the middle of a highly politicized social issue. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just more for them to have to deal with.

      I’m sure the LGBT community will still shop at Trader Joe’s if they like their food. Blacks, Asians, Whites, fat people, beautiful people, mentally ill people, etc, etc, shop at Trader Joe’s despite Trader Joe’s not advertising that they support these different groups as well. I even see elderly people there and I’m sure they’re there because they choose to be there, not because of some list that declares Trader Joe’s to be elderly people-friendly.

      1. Actually, a lot of people *do* use HRC’s list to determine where they shop. Trader Joe’s is quite proud of their open LGBT policies, having offered domestic partner benefits for years. They stand quite solidly on the accepting side of “this issue” and don’t back down from it. Offering equal rights to one’s employees is not a “highly politicized social issue,” it is complete common sense, one that Trader Joe’s has repeatedly affirmed to its employees. I was specifically told that it takes too much time and they don’t want to bother with it when they feel their policies are well known. This is the exact same attitude they had toward the Fair Food Program, which they did eventually agree to sign after incredible pressure, and releasing their sources and true GMO status. Even if it’s just a formality to them, they should do it to show to their consumers that they have nothing to hide and truly do stand behind their statements.

      2. Can there ever be a conversation in which someone doesn’t bring up LGBT issues? There are plenty of other atrocities in this world that I suppose we could find a way to correlate to this blog post, but, really, let’s just stick with the topic at hand.

      3. Oops, my comment was not in response to Beth (whose comment I agree with) but in response to Crysta.

  3. Well now I know whoever wrote this article is crazy…$2 Chuck is awesome!

    Also, enough with the conspiracy theories. If you want to eat only 100% organic & natural foods, grow your own garden. Otherwise, stop complaining.

    1. This is not complaining, nor is it a “conspiracy theory.” It’s good critical thinking, and informational for those of us who care. She’s pointing out that, although Trader Joe’s claims to be GMO-free, logic dictates otherwise, particularly in light of their refusal to back up this claim in any way. That’s good to know for those of us who thought we could buy Trader Joe labeled products, and be assured that they were GMO-free even if they weren’t organic.

      Don’t read it if you don’t care.

      1. No, if you had “good critical thinking” as you called it, you would research actual, scientific, peer-reviewed articles and arrive at the same conclusion as the overwhelming majority of scientists and all major scientific organizations in the world (including ones in Japan and the EU where the people are so paranoid about GMOs they’re forced to label products or even ban their farmers from using GM seed). The overwhelming consensus is that GMOs are not dangerous for humans. The only studies showing otherwise were so horribly conducted their results are garbage. If you want to waste your money on non-GMO foods and obsess about whether there’s a trivial amount of GMO product in Trader Joe’s food, that’s fine with me- it’s your money. Just know that you’re operating on emotions, not reason. You feel that GMO products are bad- that does not make it a fact.

      2. (to Eli) You, conversely, feel that GMO products are *not* bad – and THAT doesn’t make it a fact. And you assumed, incorrectly, that my only objection to GMOs is that the long-term effects on human health are uncertain at best. Here are my other objections, outlined pretty succinctly in a recent article from Consumer Reports: http://www.greenerchoices.org/products.cfm?product=1113GMOs&pcat=food&EXTKEY=NG0S01311

        Above all, we all have a right to know what our food is made of. Period. I am curious who you work for…. this just doesn’t seem like a blog that someone like you would subscribe to, absent an agenda.

      3. Eli… are you out of your pea brain sized head??? GMO’s are GOOD for you??? Tell me Eil, what box of cracker jacks did you get your education from? What fortune cookie rendered that little tidbit of false knowledge?? GMO’s are VERY bad for you and every study there has ever been has confirmed this over and over and over, and NO there hasn’t been only 1. The others have just been swept under the carpets here in the U.S. People, Eli obviously is a Monsanto plant!! OUTED!!!!

    2. First, I wouldn’t trust anyone who uses the word “awesome,” in reference to anything that isn’t truly something to be in awe of… especially a cheap bottle of crappy wine.

      Second, you’re ignorant. You think how our food GMO food is a theory. No, it’s reality…. much like the reality that Two Buck Chuck is NOT awesome.

    3. Ignorance is bliss isn’t it Kristen? If you can’t handle the truth then don’t bother sharing your close minded and grossly misguided views. Just cause your taste buds appreciate 2 buck chuck doesn’t change the truth that it’s full of crap and is terrible for your mind and body. Judging from your comments, I can tell you really drink A LOT of the stuff!

  4. Thank you for the info and for your work. Can you recommend a non GMO protein bar to replace ThinkThin with that has very low sugar?

    1. check out “the simply bar” my favorite as a weight lifter, most protein for least amount of sugar, and no fillers.

      1. greenpolkadotbox.com is where we do alot of our shopping. We stumbled onto them a few months ago. I suggest everyone check them out. God I hate giving up my resources, but I think it is time for a real NON GMO movement. BTW, I do not trust Tj’s anymore after today, they put ammonium bicarbonbate and dextrose in the tater tots and french frie products. WE are through. IT’s back to Whole Foods and Sprouts when we need it now, otherwise it’s green polka dot box for us. 100% grass fed ground beef only 4.99 a lb delivered right now, with free delivery on every order over 75 bucks!! Love the Kombucha prices too!

    2. Nutiva.com has an almost raw granola bar recipe that came with some products I just ordered. It is made with rolled oats, puffed brown rice, hempseed, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut flakes, roasted peanuts, coconut oil, peanut butter vanilla extract, raw honey, raisins. Sounds delicious, and can’t wait to make it.

    3. I hope they are telling the truth I eat one every day

      Non-GMO’S thinkThin is committed to sourcing ingredients that are not genetically engineered in all of our products. We have stringent protocols for GMOs which includes requiring affidavits from ingredient suppliers demonstrating they can meet our non-GMO requirements. We source nonGMO soy protein isolate.

    4. Most all packaged processed food is lacking in nutrition. If I would snack on hemp seed or chia seed. Raw Organic Whole foods is what your body needs. Processed packaged anything is lacking. I know you think you need fast but there is nothing faster than eating an organic apple.

  5. Maybe this has been addressed in the previous 500+ comments, but I couldn’t find it. Barbara’s Bakery has items on the NON GMO project site as being certified NON GMO. I don’t eat their food, but curious as to what the issue is with them, and now should I not trust the NON GMO project site?

    1. I think these companies start out wholesome and then are tempted for whatever reason to sell out to multi million dollar mega corps for a high price…thus now they CANNOT be trusted…not sure if that is the case with Barbara’s but wouldn’t be surprised…so much DECEPTION in regards to food!

      1. I would not trust any cereal due to the way it is processed. Google “War on Health” Youtube and see what is really happening to our food supply and health.

  6. One has to be minimally educated in biochemistry to understand that soy or corn oil, cornstarch, corn syrup, HFCS, etc., do not contain carriers of Genetically Modified substances – DNA, RNA and proteins.

  7. Thanks for your research please keep up the good work. It doesn’t matter if TJ’s leaning in the right direction they need to be 100% transparent!

  8. We don’t have many options…some of us live on a small budget and Trader Joe’s is wayyyyy better than shopping at my disgusting local super Market. If you want to pay for my groceries I’d be happy to shop at the high end Whole Foods (who also lie about GMO/Organic food….SO REALLY where can one shop and feel that the Truth in labeling has been applied???!!!
    We are basically dependent on trusting them or shop elsewhere…for me it’s T Joe’s….no where is perfect!!

  9. I am a trader joe shopper…i am a label reader…i sometimes call the company(not the store) to point out some salt excesses and high fructose in the jams. I avoid those aforementioned products.
    They are always willing to listen and extremely polite. Who knows? Maybe in the future my comments will be heeded.

    In the meantime, i shop in TJ’s ,Whole Foods , et al , where i buy products
    according to my needs and desires to be healthy. Pick and choose from these wonderful stores! Not everything will be right for you!

  10. Label literacy is (and always has been) the best defense.
    And, as always, if you have a high desire to meet certain standards, you may need to give up the idea of “one stop shopping”
    If you are a meat eater and *really* want to know where your meat came from, buy a side or quarter of beef from a real butcher (look up “game processing” if you can’t find a reputable butcher in your area) or contact the 4H or FFA in your region.
    Otherwise, pony up for grass fed organics, pricier but so worth it.
    Besides TJs, some of my favorite options are local Co-ops, Rosaurs (or more precisely, the “Huckleberries” within each Rosaurs) ,the “Hippie section” inside each Fred Meyer’s and Natural Grocers.
    Depending on what’s on my list, I may have to visit 4 different stores to fill the list… and, yes, that means more driving- the trade off is worth it to me.

  11. Whole Foods also sells a lot of foods that contain GMO’s. I think their plan is to be GMO free by 2016. People are just starting to understand what GMO’s really are so eventually Trader Joe’s is also going to have to become GMO free as well to continue to be competitive with Whole Foods. In the mean time Trader Joe’s has amazing prices on their organic products.

  12. I personally cannot trust Trader Joe’s. The use a lot of soy, canola, and corn in their packaged processed foods… and if they are able to somehow avoid GMOs in ALL OF THOSE… I’m impressed. The fact of the matter is I just don’t believe it. They should consider getting their high-risk items verified by the NonGMO Project. Corn chips, canola oil, etc. would be the first ones. I understand that not all can be NonGMO Project verified but they need to do something to assure consumers. Also because they have a very close relationship with GMO-titan Aldi Stores… it makes their non-gmo claim very, very unbelievable.

    I buy very, very few products for TJs. Pretty much the Dr. Bronner’s bar soap, the Yogi tea, some organic produce, some spices, and that’s about it. Is it better than Safeway, WalMart, and Costco… not necessarily. I buy Earthbound Farms lettuce at Costco for a great deal. I’ve bought organic carrots, celery, and the like at Walmart, and Safeway has a small organic section and sell top brands like Nature’s Path and Lundberg Farms (rice). If you shop around you can find good things. You just have to look. Also online I buy vitamins, nuts, seeds, etc.

    TJ is okay as a “conventional” grocery store… but definitely not a organic/natural one. Even Whole Foods fails there but does a MUCH better job.

  13. Wait, who thinks that the non-organic corn products are non-gmo? of COURSE it is gmo if it is not labeled organic. corn, soy, and all the other regular dangerous non-organics. Why would you think it is healthy just because it came from Trader Joe’s? So Trader Joe’s doesn’t use preservatives or yellow 5. Good for them. We love them for it. You still have to THINK before you eat and know the rest of your ingredients.

  14. I really love this article because I too am frustrated by their lack of transparency. I do get a few (low-risk) items there consistently due a combination of price and availability, but I have a question–you list dairy due to consumption by the cows of GMO food, which I understand and also am concerned about, but I can’t afford or source an organic yogurt or shredded cheese for a decent price that fits my other allergen concerns. You also mentioned they could have rbST, but as far as I know, that is one major appeal of Trader Joe’s dairy–it is the only place near me with any dairy products marked rBST-free, so do you also believe this claim to be suspect/questionable? And what do you think if you have no organic choice, would you choose a main brand of yogurt/cheese that surely has hormones, or TJ’s that is supposed to not have hormones but maybe still does? Thanks and I hope to hear a response!

  15. True story–I usually buy Garden of Eatin blue organic corn chips (non GMO project verified) and my dog begs for a bite, which I share occasionally…when I bought Trader Joes brand blue corn chips, she took it from me and spit it out. Same ingredients except the organic/nonGMO corn difference and tasted the same to me. That’s when I knew 2 things–I should trust my dog’s taste in food and if it isn’t verified, it likely IS GMO despite what they would like to think.

  16. I bought private label turkey meatballs from TJoe’s and was horrified to see that they contain mechanically separated meat. Gross, and not what I’d expected from them.

  17. what about Trader Joe’s brand Organic Eggs? Aren’t they “certified organic”? Such a good price for organic eggs!!! I hope it’s not too good to be true…

  18. I’m just now reading this, and my suspicions about Trader Joe’s have been confirmed. I’ve been leery of Barbara’s for some time. The only product I buy is what used to be called Shredded Oats. It’s got a new name now & sports a non-GMO label. Having read this, I will no longer buy their products.

    Do companies just print whatever label they want onto their products??

  19. Seems so backwards that food must be labeled “non
    Gmo”. Seems so much more logical and ethical to label foods that do contain GMOs. On the ingredient list it should say: Ingredients: GMO stone ground corn, water, Etc. How do we stop the hegemony of huge conglomerate corporations (in bed with policy makers) to control our food supply and perpetuate the myth that GMOs are safe to ingest into our bodies without any long term studies? Our country is plagued with preventable chronic disease stemming from the food we eat and toxins we are exposed to and our environment is being destroyed by these chemical companies (Monsanto, Dow) who are poisoning our soil and water, patenting seeds, killing bees with their pesticides, and genetically altering out food sources. And our government allows it to happen to the citizens of this country.

  20. Most of the food on the don’t buy list from Trader Joe’s are also sold at Whole Foods. Whole Foods has been criticized for pledging to label their food GMO and they’ve yet ti do so. Before you in a insuate that Whole Foods is doing this, and Trader Joe’s isn’t, you should get your facts straight. Until all these stores are required to label their products GMO, they will continue to sell us this crap. It’s irresponsible of you to pit one against the other.

  21. Just so you all know in case you forgot…this entire article…all speculation. She nor anyone else have proved trader joes has gmo in their products…I’m not saying they don’t…but everyone is acting like it’s a fact fee hit is not

  22. Traders joe’s products are mostly manufactured by Ralcorp and Con AGra.. big GMO companies… They make the same stuff for Costco.

    You wonder why there were peanut butter recalls at Trader Joe’s and not the health food stores????? Because their manufacturers source the same ingredients as the regular food industry.
    It is a big deception.
    A large European Company based in Germany masquerading as a hip little California Company!!!! Surfer dudes and the like.. GIVE me a break… with all the technology and information we have available.. you would think the lemmings would do their homework before walking in the store.

    What you don’t know about that company is the same as what you don’t know who makes all their garbage.
    It is unfortunate that so many people fall for the cute labels and the hawaiian shirts… No environmental concern with this company…

    IMPOSTER FOODS.. BY AN IMPOSTER COMPANY.

  23. Right on Foodbabe… I think the bottom line here is truth in labelling .If you leave out a fact about the ingredients that allows a potential customer to make an informed decision then you are lying by ommision(hope I spelled that correctly) Foodbabe keep up the good work.Love your sense humor. The beaver has the right to protect his asset.

  24. Good for you for bringing this info to the attention of all people.
    It is wise to be cautious wherever you decide to shop…whether that is trader joes or even Whole Foods. I believe the true and only simple answer is if it comes in a box or a can it is suspect. There is no way that the amount of food supply available to create these items is available ALL NON GMO…. if you see that 90 percent of soy grown is GMO and 70 percent of corn is GMO, 80 percent of wheat grown is GMO etc…. and the list goes on and on….it is ridiculous to think this can happen and that they would be able to provide you with all these “quick fix foods”.
    The answer? Until the whole system of deception…which includes governments and business believe this….good luck. Grow your own food and don’t rely on this stuff…..or just take your chances.

    1. There is a great deal of mislabeling at Trader Joe’s. Always look for items, especially the meat, to be “certified”

  25. Thank you for this information. I am tired of the crazy things companies get away with as far as labeling goes. “Natural ” can mean anything, for goodness sake, dirt is ” natural”. I am sick of our government protecting companies that are poisoning our food supply and not forcing them to label their garbage for what it is. Grocery shopping once an essential, but mainly pleasant experience, is now a much longer process trying to decipher labels that don’t REALLY mean what it looks like they should mean. I buy as many certified organic products as possible but , am tired of not being able to trust that food is safe anymore. Not everyone is cut out to farm their own food. Maybe in 20 more years when the politicians are also dropping dead from cancer they will get the hint????

  26. HOW ABOUT THEIR CLAIM THAT THEY SELL RAW ALMONDS? They need to disclose that their almonds are pasteurized. Natural News had an article about it and everyone that is eating almonds needs to read this.

    1. We have a small privately owned health food store where I live, and they informed me that all Almonds grown and sold in the US have to pasteurized, but they have no idea why. They only have one source from outside the US they can buy Almonds from that isn’t pasteurized. I bought some and they don’t taste very good either.

  27. I just spent $160.00 today at Trader Joes! This is so frustrating! Makes me not want to give them my business!!! I’m pretty good at reading labels, being educated on what we are putting in our bodies and eating clean! Bums me out! Thank you for all of your amazing, very informative posts!!!! I love reading what you have to say!

  28. Wow, I go to TJ every week. How about their all natural chicken, which claims vegetarian fed, no antibiotics ever. not sure what minimally processed is? also claims no other ingredient such as salt, although making soups does taste a bit salty

    1. I went to T’S I wanted to buy some red meat it said natural vegetarian feed no antibiotics blah blah blah I was apprehensive so I went to the and ask if the cows wer feed GMO’S they said not sure I will call the office to find out . A week later I get the call not good yes they are fed GMO’S no longer trust anything that says natural. Only Organic. I to spend $100 a week at Tj’S but am super careful. Own they are in it to make $$$ not for our health. Hopefully soon they will get the picture.

  29. Don’t automatically assume Whole Foods products are better than Trader Joe’s. Note this current recall:”Richmond-based Glass Onion Catering are recalling approximately 181,620 pounds of salads and sandwich wraps containing cooked chicken and ham, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said. The recall lists Walgreens, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods as companies that received the items.”

    Many companies make private label products for both TJ and WF, the only difference is the package and the usually cheaper price at TJ.

  30. I do work at TJ’s, I know there is a help line we can call when our customers have a question about a products. They are very informative and honest!
    We have training everyday before we open and close about our products. We also meet once a week to try foods and research them. ( it’s a tough job) ;).
    Most of the crew has a college degree and are very food knowledgeable. We tend to over research things when something new comes to the store. So if you feel something’s not safe just grab an employee and be prepared to get more information then you bargain for. We all love to talk about food.
    They have always been honest about our products and tell us to be as we’ll. I have been told that TJ’s has a full time middle a man that keeps up with the suppliers of our food to make sure there is no GMO’s in the product.
    Yes there is a lot of sodium in some of our products because it’s a natural preservative. We have a list of low sodium products we give our customers.
    Two buck chuck is a cheap wine and it’s great for a hang over in the morning. If you are willing to spend a few bucks more you can get a wonderful bottle of wine. Some of our best wines are only 4.99

    Hope this helps!

  31. Some of the criticisms are valid; transparency is lacking, for sure, but this is often required by the companies Trader Joe’s works with. If they slack on making sure GMOs aren’t in the food, they might indeed be there. Are people willing to pay more for every product thought for the actual labeling? Trader Joe’s niche is providing the same or equivalent products for less, so that is a bit of a conundrum for them.

    Healthy food and non-GMO food are also not always equivalent. If your article helps remind people that junk food is junk food, whether GMO-free or not, good, but it’s sad that people don’t realize that already. That being said, when people have a junk-food moment, at least the Trader Joe’s stuff is free of trans fats & fake colors/flavors.

    However, this article loses some credibility with the slam on the cheap wine. A lot don’t like the wine, but plenty of people are OK with it, and some people even like it: Just like you found a quote indicating it’s awful, I can spend 2 secs and find a quote saying it’s good:
    From http://www.winebusiness.com/
    “Three wines from Charles Shaw Winery, the super-value brand also known as “Two Buck Chuck,” have received high honors at a large and respected wine competition. The 2011 Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Charles Shaw Merlot and 2012 Charles Shaw White Zinfandel – each won a Gold Medal at the 2013 Orange County Fair Wine Competition, while the 2011 Charles Shaw Chardonnay received a Bronze Medal. All are current vintage California appellation wines that retail from $2.49 to $3.49 nationally.”

  32. I don’t know why you say all of trader joes products say they’re made in monrovia , Ca. Where I’m at they say Needham, MA. Its called a distributor dumbass, there is more than just one. Not every trader joes is supplied by the same distributer in california. Don’t be so naive.

  33. Non-GMO isn’t good enough. The food is still treated with synthetic pesticides, ripeners, etc. Non-GMO soy protein, for example, is still extracted using hexane, a petroleum byproduct, CDC neurotoxin and EPA air pollutant. Opt for organic whenever possible, and even then be wary. Many organic foods are packed in BPA-lined cans or TetraPaks that use equally bad liners.

    Read every label, even at TJ’s.

  34. Take action everyone. Please email Trader Joes. They have a form on their website for complaints. Tell them you won’t shop there until they become transparent and comply with the non-GMO Project. Money talks. Even if Whole Foods isn’t all non-GMO “yet”, at least they are being honest.

  35. I just purchased a dozen brown organic eggs from Trader Joe’s. When I boiled them with white vinegar (to make peeling easier), there was brown paint/coloring that come off the eggs in the water. They dyed white eggs to look brown! Why would they do this? I am repulsed by this! I plan to call Trader Joe’s. The eggs are certified organic by Oregon Tilth, so I plan to call them to let them know. Anyone else have this experience?

  36. I haven’t shopped at Trader Joes in a long time. I know they over hype their labeling and quality, they want you to believe there frozen whatever is the gold standard. I think the Charles Shaw wine(bronco) has added sweetener the beers they offer have gone up in price considerably from the last visit in there. I find Sprouts a much better place with a huge selection of fresh vegetibles and not all that packaging.

  37. The processing company for Traders and Costco, out of New York btw, not Monrovia, was bought out by none other than the GMO pushing company Con Agra in Jan 2013. THey are out of Omaha NEbraska, one of the leading states growing GMO Monsanto corn and soy. I can guarentee that Trader Joes products are just as unhealthy and dangerous for you as any other product. We have all been duped, they sold us out. Try Whole Foods or Sprouts or green polka dots.com. they ship for free all organic and non GMO products. They are based in Utah and are top notch.

  38. Check these professional Clinical Nutritionists about GMOs if you want to know the ACTUAL effect on health: Robert Marshall,, PhD (healthline.cc) or Bill Kellas, PhD (centerforadvancedmed.com). The mentioned agencies/organizations may have political affiliations, while health practitioners do not. Blessings!

  39. This is precisely why they do not have any official Social Networking accounts. No official Facebook, no official Twitter. They know if they do, they will be confronted by concerned consumers. They are cowards.

  40. I really think this article is a little over the top. Trade Joe’s is not an American company so they culturally aren’t used to the way we would like things to be. They don’t think the same way even though they are really good at marketing to us. I don’t think they are trying to fool anybody but are interested in protecting their private labeling companies because they are offering the same items for much less. I have much more confidence in Trader Joe’s than I ever would have with Whole Foods and neither store is exclusively organic or health food oriented.

  41. Trader Joes’ is not the one at fault. The producers who put these bad things in our food supply are at fault. If anyone has to Pay Extra for labeling, it should be companies who are responsible.

    1. Trader Joe’s chooses whom to buy from. If TJ’s chose NOT to purchase “these bad things” the producers would have no market in which to sell their nefarious goods.

      1. TJ’s would also have to continue to further limit it’s selection which is something they do far too often as it is. I go into my local TJ’s all the time looking for a current favorite product of mine and the say it’s discontinued; no longer meeting their quality or price affordability for the company. But in all reality, how much does it cost for the few extra words saying “GMO-feee” or “not GMO-free” …. I guess I just need to do more research on my products before purchasing

  42. For years I looked forward to going to a Trader Joe’s as I had heard so much good about them….their foods and prices, but there was never one near enough to me.

    Well after making a field trip to their new store in Albany NY this past summer, I have to say that I was underwhelmed to say the least and will NOT be returning!

    You are exactly right with what you are saying…. I saw soy and canola in just about everything I picked up and I put them all right back on the shelf. (Sadly this is what our “health food stores” have become over the ears….EVERYTHING is loaded with soy and canola oils…..GMO or not, it’s still not good for you!)

    Another point as you say….sourcing, is so important as we DO have a right to know what country our food is coming from. My mother always used to say that the “organic” foods from the biggest retailer in the world are from China and grown in sludge! If Trader Joe’s wants to hide sheepishly behind their trade secrets, then what is it that they have to hide? If we were talking about missile plans or defense secrets that would be one thing, but this is our FOOD….what we put IN our bodies….and we have the right to know where it comes from!

    I live for the day when all the soy, canola, colors, chemicals, gmo’s and drugs are completely gone from our food supply and all that we need can be sourced locally once again!

  43. If you want to eat super healthy grow your own food and make it!!! stop going to the stores to buy ready made food and complain about what is in it.

  44. As a former Farm Inspector and Organic Field crop and processed food inspector I have often wondered about Trader Joe’s Claims and the perception of being an organic grocery, which they clearly are not. Have always wanted to investigate them, and was very happy to come across this article because it confirms to me that others are thinking the same.
    Thanks

  45. Not only am I concerned about their GMOs but about the amount of pesticides on the imported foods. It’s obvious that much of the food is imported from South America and Asia. Having worked in that field, much of the imported food has pesticides, despite labeling, as the regulations are different for imported foods. Organic regulations are different for locally grown foods than for imports. It’s a sham! That is why they don’t provide their sources. Much of it is misleading.

    My parakeets won’t even eat vegetables from Trader Joes. They ignore them, but will always eat the local food that I give them. The vegies are imported as well so they are covered in pesticides! For example, DDT is allowed on imported foods. And, that’s just the beginning of it.

  46. having a serious allergy reaction to something I ate from trader joes, salmon frikin burgers and I did not read the label before taking home I missed the regular patties they used to make and bought the burgers that say it has (yeast extract) which is a hidden name for msg and im paying the price for not caring what I put in my mouth. Never again but more and more I am choosing to skip trader joes because I got pissed and saw the deception and secrecy when I asked about the coconut oil, which I asked about 6 employees individually plus the manager if it was refined or unrefined and they all said they did not know……really? Finally one employee lied and told me yeah its unrefined and I was eating that ish, and I asked again another time and another employeein his own way tells me iF Itdoesn’t say on the label its probably Refined… so wow I saw clearly they are training the employees to decieve just to get the buy. I like sprouts at least they tell the truth!

  47. I agree, I was looking on Google to try and find out if fish from Trader Joes is imported from China (farm raised fish there is fed human excrement) but she is right, it does not state country of origin and there is NO way to find out. The labels just say where the distribution and sales sights are – who cares about THAT!

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