Oh Trader Joe’s, How I Used to Love Thee

Six months ago, you could see me at TJ’s (because that’s what the cool kids call it) almost every weekend. I loved, loved, LOVED Trader Joe’s—everything about it! They provide quick-to-prepare, inexpensive food, with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, no added trans fat, no-genetically modified ingredients. Their stores are always clean, the employees always super helpful, and they give away samples (food and drink!). What’s not to love? OK, the Frequent Flyers are quite odd, but the food? The food is AWESOME.

Then my TJ’s world came crashing down around me. O was diagnosed with a peanut allergy in January, and as I strolled the aisles one Saturday afternoon soon after, checking all the food labels like a good allergy mommy should, I discovered Trader Joe’s throws peanuts in practically everything they make! Even macaroni and cheese! In short: WTF?

Well, OK, to be fair, they don’t actually throw peanuts in everything, but almost everything. The dreaded “processed in a facility that also processes peanuts, treenuts, etc.” label was on a lot of the food I picked up. And while TJ’s maintains that it abides by Good Manufacturing Practices, and I want to believe them, I’m just not going to take the risk that some peanut protein might end up in my 20-month-old son’s graham cracker. I can’t go there.

From what I can tell from the Labels and Lists, they provide on their packaging, Trader Joe’s can attest to do a good job keeping their milk away from their meat. Now how about trying to keep the peanuts away from the spaghetti sauce?

8 thoughts on “Oh Trader Joe’s, How I Used to Love Thee

  1. That would clearly be Pad Thai spaghetti sauce then.

    Bummer T – that’s my favorite store too!

  2. I wonder how that compares to other stores’ brands? In other words, what will you find at the other grocery stores in your area? I’ve never had to pay attention to this, so I don’t know. I also don’t have TJ’s where I live.

  3. Good question, Dem Mom.

    I guess I was surprised because sooooooo many things at TJ’s have that warning. And many have store brand counterparts that don’t have the peanut warnings on them. It’s almost not worth going to the store anymore.

    For example, I’d be hard pressed to find another macaroni and cheese or spaghetti sauce in “regular” stores that have the peanut warning on it. And while a lot of store brand cookies have peanut warnings, I can usually find something (Vanilla Wafers, Graham Crackers) that doesn’t have the warning. Every single cookie in TJ’s seems to have peanuts in it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow Tela! Definite bummer about TJs. I don’t shop there often, but I bet your situation is definitely frustrating. I didn’t realize peanuts were used for so much or come in contact with so many foods!


  5. I love TJs too and I have a similar problem…gluten free. Everything they have seems to be manufactured around wheat (except ironically their peanut butter.)

    At least they are putting info on the labels. It is disheartening to have to avoid so many of their foods. Trust me I know. But, at least they are telling you there might be a problem. I am more suspicious of the brands where the manufacturing processes don’t show up on the label.

    Good luck!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I too had to abandon TJ’s for the same reason. Also, they don’t stick that warning label in the most obvious place (next to the ingredients): One package I purchased had the warning by the UPC–on the bottom of the package. I accidentally gave my daughter a cookie from the package, but thankfully she didn’t have a reaction.

    You’ll also find that Whole Foods has lots of nutty items, including a machine to make fresh peanut butter. However, they also carry some nut-free items that are hard to find elsewhere.

  7. Mommy Bits says:

    In Mac and cheese> Peanut allergies are so hard. They slip those little suckers into everything!

  8. We love TJ’s here too. No allergies in our house, but when looking for some healthy snacks to send with my son to his kosher/dairy/non-nut snack temple school, we realized that our favorite healthy snacks from TJ’s were a no-go. Definitely a bummer. I’ve chatted about it with the manager of our local store and he said that almost everything has the note on there that it’s made in a factory that houses nuts.

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