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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

Slide1

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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1,118 responses to “What Is Trader Joe’s Hiding?

  1. I started shopping at Trader Joe’s when they first opened up in La Jolla many years ago. They used to always have country of origin labeling on their products. As the years when by, many of their items were labeled “Product of China.” When various food related scandals emanating from China made the news, TJ’s started putting the deceptive Monrovia labeling on its products. Supposedly they’ve stopped China sourcing, but I no longer trust them. Only buy very few products that are labeled Organic, like the pizza from Italy. Too bad they went in the wrong direction.

  2. I’ve always shopped at Trader Joes thinking I’m supplying my kids with healthy food options for their school lunches. I did notice, with blind faith, that everything is Dist in Monrovia, CA. It’s extra work but so worth it to buy local. You uncovered a group of liars who are clearly hiding something. Thank you for all that you do, I appreciate it!
    I would love to re-post your article on my blog @
    http://www.loveandcocoa.com
    with, of course, a link back to you. I think education and consumer pressure may eventually force them to come clean.

  3. I actually don’t shop there anymore…many of their products give my boyfriend headaches. A “Sprouts” opened near us and when I don’t go to Whole Foods I go there. Perhaps you could do a review of “Sprouts” at some point?

    1. I doubt Sprouts are as wide spread as Trader Joes outside of CA but I would appreciate a Sprouts review as well!

      1. Sprouts isn’t widespread at all, But they do have locations throughout Arizona, as well. I have seen none in Oregon, which is disappointing, as it was my go-to store for most produce and bin products.

      2. Five Sprouts stores opening in the Atlanta area spring 2014!! They are coming east!

  4. A little paranoid I think. Trader Joes is being honest. If you’re that paranoid about GMO foods, buy organic and stay away from processed foods. I could just as easily post 10 foods with ingredience that contain no fillers, etc.

    1. I totally agree with you Live Free. We don’t need more government involvement and rules in our personal lives. I think it should be the business’s option to come forward and list all ingredients, not to have government rules enforced. This is NOT the same thing as trying to force TJ into hiring a 3rd entity to say what they are producing is “okay”. With the cost increase they wouldn’t be in business for long and before you know it we will have government-run stores kind like in 3rd world countries. Gee…what kind of society would that would be like to live in.

    2. Well said!!
      If anyone with half a brain reads the ingredients on each label this info is not a surprise! I have been noticing all the GMOs when we buy non organic. It’s everywhere in everything! Luckily we only buy all the stuff on her “ok to buy list” trader joes has the same organic labeling as everyone else that is organic and those standards are high! (Same organic standards as whole foods raley’s etc)

      This article is talking about their GMO policy and it is expensive to comply with certifying products as non GMO! If TJs goes through the same expensive process to be officially labeled NON GMO! The price goes up and people who READ LABELS and BUY ORGANIC!!! Will not have a cheaper alternative.

      Leave trader joes alone there’s a reason they are less expensive and the reason is bc they don’t want to pay for the non GMO label! And I don’t want to pay for it either!

      Read your labels people! Buy Organic!!

      1. Not everyone is as knowledgeable about this stuff as you are. They are intentionally being deceptive in order to generate capital. You say they are doing the same thing as other grocery stores, but isn’t that the problem? They tell people they aren’t and the tell them that these products are GMO free when they have to proof to provide. It is shady business practices, plain and simple. We need to start holding corporations accountable for what they say and what they sell! NO MORE EXCUSES!

      2. I agree that Trader Joe’s should not have to pay to have their products certified. All they have to do is stop claiming things they are not willing to back up. The average person cannot afford to set up a lab and determine if a retailer is being honest The role of government is “to do for the people what the people cannot do for themselves”. Like build roads, protect the country from foreign enemies, enforce laws and test food and drug products. Therefore, if you claim something, you should be required to prove your claim is true.

        I know on manufactured products a seller must list country of origin if not made in the US. I am surprised food products, including processed food products, are not required to have the same labeling. I try to avoid food products from China because of their bad history with tainted products. With no country of origin labeling required we have no real indication that Trader Joe’s has stopped buying food products from China.

        If the lowest price is your yardstick, then the lives of your children are being sacrificed at the alter of money.

        What happened to honesty? If you are not willing to back up what you say, don’t say it!

  5. I do allot of detailed food investigations myself and have been appalled at what I have seen at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
    Even “organic” produce there is not really such.
    Last week there were bags of “organic” labeled Navel Oranges on sale which did not mention organic on the actual label , but did say the oranges were treated with wax coating.
    A package of “organic” vine ripened tomatoes were not vine ripened at all, but were gassed to produce a red color. When cut, the red was only on the very outer layer and the fruit was almost white inside. It was crisp and flavorless like any conventional tomato at this time of year. A real vine ripened tomato is red all of the way through, is sweet and juicy and tastes like a tomat!
    I am an organic foods chef and know what real food is and much of Trader Joe’s produce is mislabeled period!

  6. Hi Vani, what is your opinion of Trader Joe’s sliced Yogurt cheese? The package says their cows are not treated with rBST…does this have any value? It’s one of the rare non-organic cheeses that I buy because I can’t find yogurt cheese anywhere else and I like the fact that it contains probiotics. You mention TJ’s dairy as a no-no above, so I guess I already know the answer to the question, but I thought I’d double check (I love it so I guess I really want to believe it’s safe)…

    Thanks (and I love your site, btw),
    Lori
    http://adventuresofasickchick.com

    1. Yogurt cheese is so easy to make! Just take any plain, home made or organic yogurt and put it in a colander or stainless steel strainer, lined with a double layer of cheesecloth, put some yogurt in it and put it in the fridge for a day or two and allow the whey to drain out. easy-peasy!

      1. Thanks, Anne…I used to do all that (including making homemade yogurt) when I was following the SC Diet, but it just became too time consuming for me (especially on top of making all my meals from scratch). I’m now following a diet which closely resembles Paleo, but the one area I haven’t done yet is going dairy-free. I think that’s my next step. But I still love cheese (any kind of cheese) and for me, it would be easier to find a dairy-free version that’s store-bought…has anyone here tried raw cashew cheese? Just curious as to what people think about it…

        -Lori
        http://adventuresofasickchick.com

  7. My wake up call on TJ’s was when I bought a ham and turkey for thanksgiving – naively expecting them to be good.

    The ham was the weirdest cut of pork I have ever seen – almost entirely composed of bone – barely any meat on it at all. The turkey was no better. What little “meat” there was on either purchase was tasteless, over-salted and Thanksgiving dinner soon found itself in the trash – no leftovers – there wasn’t enough to make a meal for two people out of purchases that should have been adequate to feed 8 people with leftovers..

    Next time I went in I made a point of checking the ingredient lists for their prepared foods, particularly those easy to prepare frozen entrees. I was to say the least appalled at the length of the ingredients, the preservatives, food colorings and other unexpected treats..

    I haven’t been back to TJs since and I had really looked forward to their opening here.

  8. I love Trader Joe’s. When I shop there, which is 3 to 4 times a month, I treat them as I do Fred Meyer, Costco or any other place that I shop for groceries and that is I always read the label and if it doesn’t meet my criteria for organic (meaning it has the USDA label) and/or it doesn’t state it’s non-GMO or it contains something that I know is GMO (corn, soy, etc.) then I don’t buy it. If I buy something on accident, Trader Joe’s has a most excellent return policy. If the policy for GMO labeling would have passed the last time we all voted, we wouldn’t be having this ‘discussion’.

  9. Glad you’re well meaning. Your friend said its from Trader joes so it’s organic, that is their mistake. TJ’s offers both options, and much of it is Amy’s Organics and other non gmo product verified companies products repackaged. Thanksfully they don’t talk much, because honestly that’s when the government shuts down good companies when they start speaking the truth. The FDA would not approve of any statements and it would open Pandora’s box, but you can have it analyzed though, in a lab, yourself. I think Trader Joes is wonderful, you should get everything locally grown but at least they are an affordable option.

  10. Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato Basil Marinara sauce has organic soybean oil. Is this something to be concerned about?

  11. Well, Trader Joe’s is owned by Aldi, of course they don’t want you to know it is the same food they sell at Aldi.

  12. My wife was shopping for a reception being held at her place of employment, so yesterday was my first opportunity to visit a Trader Joe’s market. I’ve heard so much about the chain I tagged along just to scope out what all the hoopla was all about. Trendy immediately came to mind as I browsed the products and read the labels of various items.

    It didn’t take too long to determine that it’s all just “Marketing”. Being “Organic” does not equate to being Non-GMO look it up, it’s not a requirement to carry the Organic label. In addition I saw the funniest sign in the meat section, Non-GMO Turkeys & Hams. I thought..really? GMO meat? I had to ask and sure enough I was told it was non-gmo meat. Not, the feed for the animal was non-gmo, but the animal was gmo.

    I’ve grown my own vegetables for fifteen years now; and I know that most corn, unfortunately, is genetically modified. So is soy, the emulsifiers commonly found in food and the list goes on & yes the labels in TJ clearly show a lot of the products and the derivatives

  13. Hi, great article and thanks. I know that Aldi’s is a sister company. Can you publish a report on Aldi’s also (what to buy/not to buy)?

  14. Dang, really wish you had some pictures of the worst products with modified cornstarch, different types of gums, and VEAL!
    Great article though

  15. [Your Comments are being spammed/hacked–a bunch of them are absolute nonsense that have nothing to do with this article–can’t you delete these? They are a waste of time to read]
    Now for my comment:
    Love this article. Every time I shop at Trader Joe’s, I have a comment or question because I do read labels, and the employees’ answer is always the same: “They don’t listen to us, you should contact corporate directly.” But that doesn’t do any good either–they never reply. They have some good things–but you just have to be very careful with what you buy there.

  16. I stopped shopping at TJ’s for a while because my kids do Feingold. There are a few things that I could get there and since my cart wasn’t filled my usual checker mentioned that Trader Joe’s doesn’t do artificial ingredients or GMO’s. I just smiled and took my groceries but I was sad because I what I didn’t say is that I know their products aren’t tested by a third party because they change suppliers so often. Eek! Why didn’t I say something? Lesson learned I guess because it’s always buyer beware. Then when I just recently read about the peanut butter pretzel scandal and how ConAgra now makes them. Not good. Bottom line is the dollar rules regardless of transparency.

  17. I agree with your food values, but not with the assertion that consumers have the “right” to know where their food comes from. We may have a right not to be lied to, but actually consumers have their own RESPONSIBILITY to find out about their food and make decisions about it. Any company that sells cheap, cheap stuff – whether food or clothing – clearly don’t feel they have to answer for anything. You get what you pay for!

    1. Are you recommending a boycott of Trader Joe’s, ConAgra or both? And on what grounds? Seems a little excessive.

      1. My personal reason to boycott ConAgra is bc they contributed millions $$ to defeat prop 37 in California. Why would they fight so hard to make sure consumers don’t know they are eating GMOs?
        That’s my personal reason.

  18. Alright Vani ..

    This Food Babe Army Chica feels like throwing up her hands! Okay, no more 3rd person talk. Morning Star, Really?? Oh my goodness gracious. I buy morning stars red meat substitution. Oy.. guess it tasted too good to be true. What would you prefer to replace with red meat?

    -Alysa

  19. Someone Facebook messaged me this blog after I posted about a dessert from TJ’s and was surprised by how good it tastes considering it’s gluten free, dairy free and vegan.

    I do think a large part of the discussion is missing. One, in order to get testing the price of the food would go up in TJ’s and they’d be Whole Foods.

    I’ve lived in four different states where there is a TJ’s and each time I noticed they had local products… There are beers sold only in St. Louis that aren’t in California, Nevada or Seattle. The access to produce changed based on the location… Things like avocados, grapes, strawberries were sometimes not available… I’d ask and was informed something was going on with a local farm and they were looking for a supplier and in other cases importing them as a result of not having any local farmers…

    I do appreciate TJ’s price point on most things. Their meat is high. They are a business so I take that into consideration when shopping in their store like any other store… Still I choose to support them and they are my favorite grocery store because I feel they are a great company. They donate food every single morning from all of their stores to the local soup kitchens. They donate money to local projects in whatever community they are serving. Their employees are happy because they treat them well… They are recycling and encouraging their customers to recycle.

    But we’re talking about labeling foods, GMO, GE and organic versus conventional… Where the food comes from and being informed. I’ve read their statement about their products. I’ve also had discussions with two of their managers and several employees over the years. The answers haven’t changed. Whenever I’ve asked about a thing in their store employees have said they only guarantee Trader Joe private label items are non GMO. This is not a secret. Which also means it isn’t a secret they carry GMO products. Furthermore if you read their policy they do force companies to do third party independent testing and require affidavits. A good question that just came to me, are affidavits public record?

    It is hard out here for conscious eaters not growing their own food. I admit I’ve been disappointed by what’s in some of the food in TJ’s because I wanted a place I could blindly shop. On the other hand they have the best food for people with different eating diets… My son is gluten free. I find far more food there than any other store. Still, I think this is a great article for anyone who thought Trader Joe’s was a health food store, completely organic or non-GMO. However I don’t know about the secrecy or using secrecy to feed people things they are coming to Trader Joe’s to avoid.

    Other things I’d like to be considered. Is it common knowledge that “organic” is a label farmers must pay thousands of dollars to get certified? Is it common knowledge that many farmers who actually are organic can’t afford to label their food as such? Is everyone aware that Trader Joe’s supports small businesses? Allowing small businesses to use local labs and third parties to ensure food under their private label is cheaper for the small business. More main stream labs charge more to certify food. So just because the producers or growers of Trader Joe’s are using smaller unknown labs to validate their food, doesn’t mean the food is bad. More importantly, because a company that makes money on giving ratings, rates Trader Joe’s as bad doesn’t mean they actually are… It means Trader Joe’s hasn’t paid them for a stamp of approval.

    Trader Joe’s does randomly test food as it’s says, because they’ve removed things I loved over the years. When I asked when or if it was coming back I was told that they found something in the product that didn’t meet their guidelines. Then they’d say they were looking for someone else to make these items. Some of them never came back and others didn’t taste as good or the same…

    I have children and I’ve been a conscious eater for years… I just have to read wherever I go… I have less fear in Trader Joe’s than I do in regular grocery stores. There are more things that I can actually have there.

    I just feel like this article is saying, because you won’t show me you must be lying. I just don’t feel that way about this company…. Even the examples used here are things that are not a secret. They never say they don’t have any GMO foods. They only guarantee their private labels.

    1. I appreciate your comment. I think you made a great point. It would be awesome if there is a cheaper way to get things certified organic for smaller farmers like you said.

    2. Trader Joe’s Organic Red Wine & Olive Oil lists organic vegetable oil as (organic soy and/or organic canola oil). Canola oil is NOT organic, it is highly processed.

    3. Well said! I love trader joe’s and will continue shopping there. I will also continue to do my part as a consumer and read the label.
      Also, 2 buck chuck has had several award winning varietals. They purchase excess juice, often the same that is being used in high end priced wines.

  20. Sometimes I feel like the only person in the country that doesn’t trust Trader Joe’s, so I’m happy to see someone else voicing concern. GMOs weren’t so much my concern originality as secrecy and labeling- where does the food come from? Why are there no expiration/pack dates on their frozen food? Why so much packaging? Plus, multiple friends have gotten food poisoning from their products (especially peanut products) Dodgy. Go local.

  21. We are so past the so called paranoid stage. This is our food source, what keeps us alive. My local Farmers Market can tell you in one sentence what is in my meat and on my vegetables. More expensive, sometimes, eat less meat and vary your diet. Food should not be an addiction but, a joy.

  22. I worked at TJs for 15 years. I was severely injured 4 years ago. Corporate does not tell employees ANYTHING except the mumbo jumbo good things to pass along to customers. Nor are they a great company to work for anymore due to several changes in health care reform. I know a lot of folks are saying they shop their because of the prices. Yes, they are relatively low. BUT they avoid paying to have things tested properly and regularly. They make more in profit dollars than Whole Foods or Sprouts. SO honestly, they SHOULD test everything and share it with anyone whom asks. The only information they will post is whatever is required by law. The organic, non-GMO, free-range etc etc etc labeling is so vague that they can label darn near anything as such. If i recall correctly the requirement for labeling as organic or non GMO is that approximately 90% of the ingredients follow what normal people think of as organic or non GMO. That leaves 10% up in the air and really, you have no idea what you are getting. TJS makes nothing. It is all produced by big name companies that a lot of folks don’t want to do business with. As far as donating food, it is usually items that are 1 day before expiration or labeled incorrectly. Fund raisers, yes they are great about that. TJs is growing to fast for its own good, soon you will notice that your friendly faces you have seen for years have split and you get punks with bad attitudes instead. Rewind 10 years ago and yes it was a great place to work and had pretty good items. Now, not so much. Thank you for writing this article and i really hope it makes an impact if enough people read it and demand answers.

    1. Hey Lady L—don’t blame TJ on health care problems. Blame our communist president for forcing Obamacare down everyone’s throats which WE…as business owners are being forced to swallow.

    2. Hey Lady L— don’t blame TJ for the current health reform. Blame your current communist president for forcing obamacare down everyone’s throats.

  23. An article came out int he last couple of days stating that Whole Foods has now compromised on their GMO stance, too. Made me very angry. Not feeling like supporting either one of these two places! Gonna try sticking with my local health food store, even though expensive.

  24. Hi Food Babe! I am a little confused:( In your 2013 list of “food babe army” victories, you stated one of the victories being that Trader Joe’s finally supplied you with the proper paperwork to verify their non-gmo claims. Did I misinterpret that? Thank-you! Keep up the great work! -Alison

  25. This should come as no surprise to many of you, but from the comments above I see a lot a naivety. So many blindly TRUST the USDA organic food label, as if it’s a special revelation from God. It’s NOT. The United States Department of Agriculture is the same group that has allowed toxins and poison into our food supply in the first place! Don’t think that by slapping a special label onto a vegetable and then raising the price to the consumer you’re getting produce from Heaven. The only way to assure you are getting certified organic is to grow your own. I know, I know it’s not convenient….it’s not practical…..blah, blah, but as someone who has worked closely with the FDA in the past, I can assure you that your good health is the furthest thing from their minds. Perhaps it’s time to get back to the basics this country was founded upon and refuse big government intervention in our lives. We should be grown up enough to take care of ourselves.

  26. I use to work for a manufacturer, that supplies quite a few crackers, cookies, and snack foods to Trader Joes. D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Company in York, PA does a lot of business with Trader Joes, I don’t have a specific list of all of the products that they make for them; however I encourage people to go on their website, and checkout the ingredients of their products. Most likely it will be one in the same, assume that if it’s crackers or cookies it was made by Stauffers.

    My suggestion is DO NOT BUY these products from them, they are not natural and healthy as advertised!

  27. Buying Organic at Trader Joe’s is no guarantee of organic. I recently read the label of Trader Joe’s Organic Red Wine & Olive Oil Vinaigrette and it listed organic vegetable oil (organic soy and/or organic canola oil). You can NOT label canola oil as organic, it is highly processed. You can see the process to make canola oil on utube. I’ve always liked Trader Joe’s but now I question their organic labeling. I want to know where my food comes from and if it contains GMOs.

    1. While I agree with you that canola oil is to be avoided at all costs. I don’t understand your point, lots of foods can be organic and highly processed, to my knowledge they are not mutually exclusive.

  28. I simply could not leave your site before suggesting that I really loved the usual info an individual
    provide on your visitors? Is gonna be again incessantly to investigate cross-check new posts

  29. Thank you for posting this Foodbabe! I called them today and question after question received “I cannot disclose that”, “I can not disclose who does non GMO verification”, “I can not disclose who audits our food supply and ingredients”, “I can not disclose who checks their affidavits”, etc etc.

    I will no longer shop at Trader Joes.

    If anyone else wants to call and voice your frustration this is the customer relations phone number 626-599-3700

  30. What do you say about TJ’s Sliced Goat’s Milk Dutch Cheese?
    From my understanding goats are not treated with hormones and antibiotics but I’m not sure what they graze on…?
    Ingredients read; pasteurized goat’s milk, salt, starter cultures, microbial rennet and lysozome-? (enzyme from egg white).
    Thanks for any enlightenment you can offer!
    Melina

  31. Not everything is labeled that it comes from Monrovia. If it is sourced from outside the U.S. TJs is required to put that on the label. Any thing that comes from the U.S. will say that it comes from Monrovia. You just needed to do a little more research. Though as a long time employee of the company, this is all I will argue with. It would be great if the company would do something to prove that the products are in fact gmo free

  32. Hi Vanity,
    Thank you so much for your hard work, I truly appreciate it.
    I was wondering if you have done any research on Publix’s (Florida) “Greenwise Organic” products? Its their store- brand Organic line.

  33. A friend just sent me your blog about Trader Joe’s because I’ve been on a mission to find out more about their boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Contact two stores to ask who there supplier is so I can do more research (conventional & organic). No dice. They will NOT reveal their supplier. I was shocked! What are they hiding? In a day where the consumer is more interested in ever in knowing where their food comes from, how it’s grown, etc…, they refuse to be transparent! I won’t shop there again & am letting all my friends who are TJ fans know too.

  34. In general I like TJ’s, but it would certainly help if they would allow independent third-party verification of their claims.

  35. I comment when I like a article on a website or if
    I have something to valuable to contribute to the conversation.
    Usually it is a result of the passion displayed in the post I
    looked at. And on this post What Is Trader Joe’s Hiding?.
    I was moved enough to drop a thought 😉 I actually do have some questions
    for you if it’s okay. Is it simply me or do a few of the remarks come across as if they are written by brain dead individuals?
    😛 And, if you are posting on additional online sites, I would like to keep up with you.

    Would you make a list the complete urls of all your communal pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or
    linkedin profile?

  36. So… Why not keep shopping at your local grocery store and by organic? Don’t understand why you need to shop at a fancy named store?

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  38. TJ’s is a big corporation. Big corporations do things to help themselves.

    That being said, I’m truely not surprised that they wouldn’t send undisclosed information to the food babe, confidential or not. She has a reputation of scare-blogging and if I were an executive at TJ’s I certainly wouldn’t touch this blog with a ten foot pole. So someone has policies about not giving out undisclosed consumer information to bloggers. So freaking what? That doesn’t make them suspicious it makes them smart.

    Blogging is wonderful. But is blogging journalism? That’s a debate for a different place, but it appears that tj’s didn’t think so. So you write an inflammatory article about how the evil company won’t give you their secrets? Maybe they don’t trust you, foodbabe.

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