Trader Joe’s Changes Its Mind; Will Not Remove Controversial Packaging

Hannah Rimm

EDGEWATER, NEW JERSEY – APRIL 10: Due to tightening regulations, lines at stores are forming outside to facilitate social distancing while shopping, like at the Trader Joe’s on April 10, 2020 in Edgewater, New Jersey. COVID-19 has spread to countries throughout the world, claiming nearly 103,000 lives and infecting nearly 1.7 million people. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

EDGEWATER, NEW JERSEY – APRIL 10: Due to tightening regulations, lines at stores are forming outside to facilitate social distancing while shopping, like at the Trader Joe’s on April 10, 2020 in Edgewater, New Jersey. COVID-19 has spread to countries throughout the world, claiming nearly 103,000 lives and infecting nearly 1.7 million people. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, Trader Joe’s stated it would be taking steps to amend certain packaging after receiving public backlash spearheaded by a Change.org petition created by Briones Bedell. The petition calls for the removal of the chain’s “racist branding and packaging,” referring to the “Trader Joe’s” modifiers on some of its packaged food items, such as “Trader Ming’s” on the Kung Pao Chicken and “Trader José’s” on Premium Lager from Mexico.

A Trader Joe’s representative originally told ABC News, “While this approach to product naming may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness, we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect — one that is contrary to the welcoming, rewarding customer experience we strive to create every day.” The statement went on to say that Trader Joe’s had been in the process of removing all “ethnically” modified versions of Trader Joe’s from its branding in the near future. However, according to a new statement on its website, the grocer has reversed course.

Dated July 24, 2020, the post read: “In light of recent feedback and attention we’ve received about our product naming, we have some things we’d like to say to clarify our approach. […] We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions.” The statement goes on to explain Bedell’s petition and concludes that it will not, in fact, be taking any steps towards removing these modifiers. Instead, the grocer said it makes decisions based on purchasing patterns and feedback from Crew Members and customers. The post ended by solidifying the reasoning behind the decision to keep these labels, “Recently we have heard from many customers reaffirming that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended ­— as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing.”

The two statements, from merely weeks apart, seem contradictory to one another, but the most recent statement is clear. In an email to Refinery29, a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s responded, “Based on customer feedback, over the years, we have changed the names of, or discontinued hundreds of products with name variations of the Trader Joe’s brand.” The spokesperson also restated that none of Trader Joe’s efforts “have ever been the result of a petition. And as for the remaining products containing what the petition called “racist packaging and branding,” Trader Joe’s told Refinery29, “We are continuing to evaluate them and if they resonate with customers, they’ll remain on store shelves. If they don’t, changes will be made.”

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

Trader Joe's To Remove Racist Packaging

What It's Like To Work At Trader Joe's Right Now

Trader Joe's Is Temporarily Closing Select Stores

More From

  • So Neck Gaiters Don’t Make Good Face Masks. What Should I Use Instead?

    Until this week, Nate Favini, MD, religiously wore a neck gaiter on his daily runs. He also avoided saying hello to people, instead opting to “wave, and sort of bow my head to say thank you if they moved out of the way for me.” He took these precautions in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, which can be passed via respiratory droplets exhaled when you speak, or cough, or sneeze. But this morning, he switched up this routine, ditching the gaiter for a proper mask.The reason for the change: On Tuesday, August 11, a study was published that looked into the effectiveness of 14 different types of face masks. And the results seemed to indicate that certain neck gaiters might be worse than not wearing a face covering at all, says Warren S. Warren, Ph.D., one of the study’s co-authors and a professor of chemistry at Duke University.“We found there were instances where somebody wearing a gaiter or bandana emitted more droplets than they did not wearing it,” Warren says. “The only way that’s possible is because the loose weave of the fabric is breaking up bigger droplets into smaller ones. That’s bad, because big droplets tend to fall to the ground very quickly, and smaller droplets go for a longer distance.” That’s right — we may have been better off going bare-faced than we were wearing our gaiters. That’s not to say that Warren is recommending running sans face covering, especially if you live in a more densely populated area. But ditch the gaiter for a more effective option. “This morning I went running and wore a surgical mask instead,” says Dr. Favini, the medical lead at Forward, a concierge medical service. “It can be hard to run with something covering your mouth and it can make breathing more challenging, but it does matter to protect those around you.” If you prefer a reusable option, the study found that cotton masks were nearly as effective as surgical masks.In general, Warren says, the more breathable a mask is, the less you should trust it — bad news for runners, who have been relying on airier coverings to get them through hot-weather runs. That doesn’t mean your mask has to be stifling, but: “My personal rule of thumb is that if I can see through the mask, or can stretch the fabric, it probably isn’t doing a whole lot of good,” Warren says.He also recommends getting a mask with a strap that wraps around your head instead of looping over your ears; the former stays in place better when you’re active. And while Warren says you should keep one on while running amongst people, he notes that it’s fine to pull the covering down when you’re in an isolated area. If you, like Dr. Favini, had been using a neck gaiter as a mask on your runs, there’s no need to lose sleep, says Preeti N. Malani, MD, Chief Health Officer at the University of Michigan. “The thing is, if you’re outdoors and you were running alone, it’s probably okay,” Dr. Malani says. “Being outside is a lower risk environment.” Sure, switch to a surgical or cotton mask now — but don’t let the news deter you from being active outdoors, if that’s your usual routine. “I’m worried there’s a group of people who’ll be afraid to go outside,” she says. “We need to keep in mind that there are other risks besides COVID. There’s loneliness, social isolation, and not getting exercise.” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?We Found The Face Masks With The Highest ReviewsCondoms Can Teach Us A Lot About Face MasksIt's Hot. But You Still Need To Wear A Face Mask

  • 8 At-Home Facial Tools That’ll Turn Your Bathroom Into A Spa

    We've lost count of the number of times we've squinted into our magnifying mirror during quarantine and thought, "Damn, I need a facial." But even though social distancing has put a damper on our quarterly pore-purging appointments, that doesn't mean our skin has to suffer for it.  You can play at-home facialist with the products already in your bathroom cabinet, but the right tools will get you even closer to the professional experience. Whether it's a stone roller to massage away tension and puffiness or a vibrating cleansing device to go deep into your pores, we've rounded up some of the best tools to add to your routine. Now, light a candle, pop on the "Relaxing Massage" playlist on Spotify, and float far, far away from the tiny bathroom you've been stuck in for months. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

  • Two Florida Men Were Arrested For Selling A Deadly COVID-19 “Cure”

    Colombian officials arrested two Florida men who were wanted in the United States for illegally selling a chemical solution similar to pool cleaner through their church as a miracle cure for the coronavirus. Mark and Joseph Grenon, father and son, were arrested in Santa Marta where they were shipping their “Miracle Mineral Solution” to clients in the U.S., Colombia, Africa, and elsewhere.Mark Grenon is the archbishop of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing in Bradenton, FL. One of the beliefs it espouses is the use of toxic chemicals as a sacrament to cure all manner of illnesses and conditions —from cancer to autism, and now COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration received reports of people being hospitalized and developing life-threatening health conditions after drinking the solution. The FDA analyzed the “Miracle Mineral Solution” and found that it contained chemicals commonly used in treating textiles, industrial water, and paper. At least seven Americans have died from using the substance; it is unclear if there have been any deaths from it in other countries. But Grenon are part of a larger wanted party dispersing the deadly “cure.” In April, the Food and Drug Administration issued an injunction against the church for marketing “Miracle Mineral Solution” as a cure for the virus. It was ignored. Federal agents responded by showing up to the church with search warrants, a federal order, and a hazmat team in July, reports CBS Miami. Inside, they found 50 gallons of muriatic acid, 22 gallons of the miracle solution, and 8,300 pounds of sodium chlorite. The same day, Mark Grenon and his three adult sons Jonathan, Jordan, and Joseph Grenon were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and criminal contempt. According to court documents, a federal judge ordered all websites selling “Miracle Mineral Solution” to remove the product, and all supplies involved in making it are required to be confiscated and destroyed. Furthermore, the creation of future websites to market the product is prohibited. The church is also required to reach out to everyone who bought the chemical solution to notify them that the product was distributed unlawfully and is dangerous to ingest. This also isn’t the first time the family has peddled their concoction as a cure. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Grenons marketed the solution as a treatment for preventing and curing Alzheimer’s disease, brain cancer, autism, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. Investigators first discovered it being marketed as a coronavirus cure in March. In April, Mark Grenon wrote to President Donald Trump encouraging him to embrace the product as a solution for containing the virus, The Guardian revealed. MMS “can rid the body of COVID-19,” reads the letter. A few days later, Trump was now-famously quoted raising the idea of injecting disinfectant into the body as a cure for coronavirus. “Is there a way we can do something, by an injection inside or almost a cleaning?” said Trump. He later insisted he was being sarcastic.Mark Grenon has since admitted to U.S. investigators that the church “has nothing to do with religion” and that it is solely to “legalize the use of MMS” and avoid “going to jail,” according to court documents filed in Florida. The Grenons were reportedly making around $120,000 a month selling the solution, a four-fold increase from previous sales prior to the pandemic.“We will NOT be participating in any of your UNCONSTITUTIONAL Orders, Summons, etc.” an email from Mark Grenon to U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams. “Again and again I have written you all that…you have NO authority over our Church.”If convicted of all charges, they all face at least 14 years in prison with the possibility of more than 17 years.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?19 Women On The Long-Term Effects Of COVID-19Would A Coronavirus Vaccine Be Free For Everyone?Trump Dangerously Suggests Disinfectants As Cure

  • 10 Bestsellers That Outdoor Voices Can Hardly Keep In Stock

    Athleisure's been having its moment in the fashion spotlight for a while now — but 2020 is officially its biggest year yet. As we've collectively found ourselves stuck at home amidst a global pandemic, the casual-cool style is what we've been living in. Our go-to brand that checks the boxes of durable enough for a workout, comfy enough for the couch, AND cute enough for a Zoom meeting (all things we've been doing a lot of lately)? Outdoor Voices. The Austin-based athleisure-wear staple has continued to serve up cult-favorite styles from sports-bra crop tops to super-soft leggings and much more in an array of refreshing colorways — most of which almost always sell out. We went ahead and combed the site's ever-popular selection for the top-rated styles that shoppers can't stop adding to cart. Whether it's a pair of TechSweats to get you through the hottest of summer runs or an Exercise Dress to serve as your new WFH uniform, better nab these OV bestsellers now while they're still in stock. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Outdoor Voices' New Collab Is Biking Goals8 Pairs Of Lighter Than Air Leggings For SummerThe Best Summer Workout Bottoms Are Bike Shorts