Trader Joe’s employees are a loyal bunch, so much so that many believe their beloved Joe can do no wrong.  So when a group of workers saw our Facebook post last week asking the company to stop selling meat raised on antibiotics, the response was notable.

Getting past the name calling (and some colorful language we won’t repeat here), most jumped to the defense of TJ’s products.  Said one employee, “I work at Trader Joe’s. We don’t carry meat like that.  This is totally false.  All our meats are without hormones, antibiotics, steroids.”   Hundreds of others weighed in, many making similarly inaccurate claims about TJ’s meat and accusing CU of starting rumors or making false allegations.

FB post

Truth is, we’re glad to have the conversation and set the record straight.  Many people – customers and employees alike – have been surprised to hear that much of the meat sold by Trader Joe’s comes from animals raised on antibiotics.

TJ’s stores do offer some chicken and beef (but no pork or ground turkey) raised without antibiotics.   But the point here isn’t just to give customers some options of ‘no antibiotics’ meat, it’s to urge Trader Joe’s to take a stand for public health and say no to any meat from animals raised on the drugs.

Some 80 percent of all antibiotics are sold for use in food animals, to promote growth and prevent disease in crowded and unsanitary conditions.  Dousing the animals with drugs leads to bacteria becoming immune, both in animals and people. Trader Joe’s could do something to help address this problem right now, by ending sales of meat and poultry raised on antibiotics in its stores.

More than other grocery stores, Trader Joe’s seems particularly well poised to make this commitment because:

  • Most of Trader Joe’s meat (as with most of their products in general) are sold under the company’s own brand, meaning they have a direct relationship with their suppliers and can make these kinds of demands.
  • Trader Joe’s already has a solid record of setting these kinds of standards for the products they sell, such as no GMOs, artificial colors or trans fats, and only sourcing sustainably raised fish and cage-free eggs.
  • Trader Joe’s main competitor, Whole Foods, already has a ‘no antibiotics’ policy in place for all of the meat it sells, and Trader Joe’s should be the next to make this commitment.
  • Many Trader Joe’s customers and employees already think the company does not sell meat raised on antibiotics, and it should live up to these expectations.

It’s clear from their postings on Facebook that some employees are already aware of the different types of meat offered by TJ’s, and one particular comment points to recent efforts by the company to educate its staff.   Said one six-year veteran:

“For the last five [years] I’d been telling our customers that NONE of our meat comes from animals treated with antibiotics.  Several months back, my [store] captain gathered everyone together to inform us that this is not true.  I’m a little disturbed by how long I’ve been giving customers the wrong information, and by how many employees (apparently) are continuing to do so…. This is not okay.”

Such comments, however, were few and far between the posts of irate employees attacking the basis of our campaign and misinformed attempts to vindicate TJ’s meat products.

FBpost2

But one wise gentleman (and loyal TJ’s customer) had some words of advice for the incensed crew members:

“I shop at Trader Joe’s almost every day. I like the food they sell, and I like the employees. The only way you will get better is to listen to feedback from your customers, and not get defensive. I spoke to Customer Relations this afternoon, and they confirmed that there are currently no “all natural” or “organic” pork and turkey products available.  Let’s all work together to make TJs even better.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Trader Joe’s, your customers love you, and clearly your employees love you too. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.  Give your meat raised on antibiotics the boot.  You’ll give people all the more reason to love you by living up to a standard they already think exists.