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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Trader Joe’s = Ethnocentric

I was reading a story tonight about how a “US store chain cuts sales of food from China” and was a bit shocked that Trader Joe’s really intends to eliminate "all single ingredient food items (whatever that means) sourced from Mainland China are scheduled to be out of our stores by April 1.” Apparently, Trader Joe’s is basing this move on customer complaint stemming from “a series of consumer scares last year involving harmful products from major exporter China, including seafood, cat food, medicines and toys, led to mass product recalls and the tightening of US safety regulations (NO, it did not).”

Here is an interesting fact. In fifteen years of food litigation, guess how many cases of human food poisoning I have seen out of China – zero (OK, they have clearly killed some dogs and cats in the US, and recently sicked a bunch of people in Japan). Yes, Chinese products have been in the news as of late, but the reality it that US corporations do a great job of poisoning us without help from China or anywhere else for that matter.  Trader Joe’s, you should be ashamed for focusing on a problem from China that really does not exist. Joe, take a walk around your store and look at all of your products that you have sold that have caused illness over the last few years – how many have come from outside the US?

  • The ingredients responsible for the Veggie Booty Salmonella issue were sourced from China, although this Veggie Booty product would not be restricted from sale at Trader Joe’s (this is made in US as a multiingredient food item).

  • Nicole

    I completely disagree with you and am very happy that Trader Joe’s has chosen to eliminate Chinese sourced goods. I am hopeful that more companies will follow their lead. By the way, you forgot to mention the antifreeze substituted as Glycerin in toothpaste and other items. Take a look someday at the list of goods from this country held at the border and the reason for the hold and you won’t eat again. And that is only 2% of the imports due to limited and gutted FDA manpower. The soil is contaminated with toxins, the waters are polluted (you want to eat a Chinese sourced shrimp or Tilapia, be my guest), the meat is infected and there are virtually no regulations for safety. If they say otherwise, that is pure propaganda. Why do you suppose that all of our factories are there. No regulations, cheap labor and the ability to pollute without consequence. Yes we have domestic issues but I, and I will bet most people, would take US sourced food over Chinese any day. I personally would not eat so much as a raisin from China. I wouldn’t eat food from Vietnam either. It has nothing to do with liking or not liking the people. It has everything to do with not wanting to be poisoned. Bravo to Trader Joe’s. I haven’t shopped there in about a year because nearly everything on their shelves are from China. Now I will return.
    And yes they killed thousands of animals. It was important enough that the supplier and two of the Chinese manufactures were recently indicted, finally. You can’t just say well they only killed some animals. You have to have dead cat or dog buried in your backyard to appreciate the significance of that tragedy. I think it annoys you that people care more about other animals than they do other people. There is a reason for that but that discussion would be way off topic. Suffice it to say that most people have pets, many watched them die a slow death, most people are pissed off at China for this and most people do not want to eat their food, period.

  • Amanda

    This is a publicity move and nothing whatsoever about food safety. The problematic items from China have been ingredients, not single foods.
    Nicole — There will still be food on TJ shelves from China, just not in the whole foods sections.
    Amanda

  • Sam Grubb

    To those of you who say “I will never eat anything from China”, good luck to you.
    Unless you grow everything you eat, there is virtually no chance for you to completely avoid Chinese food ingredients.
    Although there have indeed been issues with Chinese goods, it is more important for us to clean up the worsening mess in our own food industry.

  • Bix

    I agree with Sam, Amanda, and Martin.
    In this climate of globalization, it’s difficult to confidently source all materials in a product. Some tainted toothpaste that entered this country was imported from Africa, not China. It took some digging to find out that some of its ingredients were sourced in China.
    I don’t see the sense in Trader Joe’s move. If they want to, for some reason, refuse goods from China, they would have to do a LOT of homework trying to discover where the raw materials in their products came from. e.g. China sells to Africa, who repackages it and sells to say Brazil, who repackages it and sells to say the US. And record keeping for that trail is a shambles.
    It looks to me like Trader Joe’s is willing to accept goods from China, as long as someone else assembles them, and it doesn’t *appear* to be coming from that country.

  • I, too, applaud Trader Joes with a caveat: At issue is not whether or not there have been cases of illness resulting from tainted Chinese products. What is at issue is the need for swift, harsh punishment. Yes, China executed its director of State Food and Drug Administration, Zheng Xi, but that did not strike them in the pocket. The only action truly effective at stopping such cavalier pursuit of profit over safety is to make the cost of purveying tainted foods and ingredients so unbearably high nobody in their right mind would even think of it. When it costs a company more to manufacture shoddy products than clean and safe ones, it will pursue the path to profit.
    David Feder, RD
    Editor
    Wellness Foods magazine
    http://www.wellnessfoodsonline.com

  • Sherry

    The US has a “country of origin” law which is not being enforced. Food processors are supposed to identify the country of origin of imported ingrediants. The best way I know to change this is to inform manufacturers via their 800#s or websites that you don’t want to ingest any food products from China, or any other country you don’t trust. I’ve read that the worst countries for impure foods are China, India & Mexico.