Trader Joe’s customers now educating staff about their meat raised on antibiotics


You deserve safe, healthy food. Help us label GMOs and get antibiotics out of food animals.

By Consumers Union on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

TJs BeefWhat’s the deal with Trader Joe’s selling meat from animals raised on antibiotics?  Their staff members don’t always know, so it turns out customers are stepping in to do a little bit of employee education.

As part of our ongoing campaign urging Trader Joe’s to stop selling meat raised on antibiotics, we recently released a flyer which was downloaded by thousands of TJ’s customers to take to their local stores when they shop.  In the past, we’ve run into some problems with TJ’s employees responding in not-so-factual ways to the flyers, as we’ve heard countless reports from customers who were told emphatically that Trader Joe’s meat does not come from animals given antibiotics.  We know this isn’t true for a number of reasons (including because it says so on their own website).

As recent feedback has started to roll in, it’s disappointing that we’re continuing to hear reports about TJ’s employees still giving misinformation about their meat to shoppers.

But this time we heard some pretty great stories about customers stepping up to the plate to educate the staff members about the truth behind their meat products.

Liz from California approached a manager who turned out to be the staff member in charge of ordering meat for that particular store.  She said that he “thought all TJ’s meats were hormone & antibiotic free. We both reviewed the meats on the shelf and he allowed me to educate him on how to read what he saw on the package. Or what he didn’t see.  I don’t know that it will change anything at TJ’s but [name redacted] learned something.”    (Go Liz!!)

Lana from Pennsylvania received push back from the manager at her local store who insisted that all of their meat is ‘no antibiotics’.  She challenged him, pointing to packages that didn’t bear the ‘no antibiotics’ label.  The manager was so adamant that he told her to call the company’s Customer Relations line, which she did on the spot.  The customer service representative told Lana she was correct, and then spoke directly to the manager as well.  Said the vindicated customer, “He was very chagrined!”

David in Oregon had a chance to talk to a TJ’s employee that was enthusiastic to learn and help our efforts.  He reported: “Staffer was very receptive and asked me to accompany her to the meat display. She was surprised to learn that TJs carries a considerable quantity of meat products that are NOT antibiotic-free. She was actually quite enthusiastic to pass along the flyer to Management.”

We wish all customers’ experiences were like David’s.  Too often, however, people write to tell us about TJ’s employees who continue to deny that antibiotics are used in their meat production, like Miriam in California who said, “They didn’t believe me that they sold meat treated with antibiotics” or misinformed responses like, “Our corporate policy is to not sell meat raised using antibiotics,” as Marketa in Ohio was told.  Worse, when Karla from Oregon took in a flyer she says they “told me they do not do this and refused to take the flyer.”   (And this isn’t to mention the dismissive eye-rolling by a store manager given to Laura in San Francisco who delivered three flyers, or Morton from New Mexico who was told by the staffer “No comment” and then wadded up the flyer and threw it in the trash can right in front of him.)

So much for that friendly customer service?

When customers got these kinds of responses, many wrote to us to find out the real story, like Sharon in California.   She now stands even more firmly in support of Trader Joe’s making this transition.  She says:

“It’s real simple:  their employees could not give this false information if they stopped selling meat raised with antibiotics.  I have every reason to believe that the same creative and progressive grocer that has raised the culinary tastes and expectations of Americans will be able to take the next step and commit to selling meat raised without drugs.”

Right on, Sharon.  We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

In the meantime – do you shop at Trader Joe’s?  Take a flyer with you the next time you shop and help keep pressure on the company to stop selling meat raised with antibiotics.   If any staffers give you misinformation, we enthusiastically encourage you to take advantage of this ‘teachable moment’ – and let us know how it goes.

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