Trader Joe’s: Decieving Customers Since 1958

I stopped shopping at traditional grocery stores in 2011 around the same time that I went vegan.

The reasons were plentiful, but I cared most about avoiding:

  • Artificial Colors
  • Artificial Flavors
  • Preservatives
  • Other added “junk” ingredients

Now, if you’ve seen my write-up on the best vegan grocery stores, you’ll notice that I left out a big competitor: Trader Joe’s.

Some might be wondering why I would include a store like Sprouts and exclude TJ’s.. It really comes down to their morals as a company.

Trader joes and their artificial colors

Trader Joe’s Lies About Artificial Colorings

This started about 6 months ago when I noticed that the Trader Joe’s brand dishsoap I had been using has artificial coloring added.

I was a little distraught, as they have this sign posted outside all their stores:

Trader Joes lying

Email Attempt #1

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Hi there!

I’ve been a loyal fan of Trader Joe’s for years now, I love your products! That being said, I did notice something the other day that concerned me.
It clearly states outside your stores that the “Trader Joe’s Brand Means: YES! All-Natural Colors”, however I noticed that your dish liquid soap contains FD&C coloring? How is that natural?

Thanks so much for your time

-Nick Abell

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Thank you for contacting us with your product inquiry. In response, this product does contain a bit of food grade coloring, and specifically as we have found that customers prefer the color for visual appeal. It is considered naturally derived, and safe, per FDA guidelines and standards (and ours, as well!).

Email Attempt #2

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Hi there!
I was informed that your dish soap does in-fact contain artificial FD&C colorings.. Which ones are used? And why aren’t they listed in the ingredients?
My family is very sensitive to certain artificial dyes and am concerned about continuing to use the products.
That being said, I feel betrayed by Trader Joe’s. Outside of each store is a prominent sign that claims “YES! Only Natural Coloring in TJ’s Brand”… Care to explain?

-Nick Abell

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Thank you for contacting us! Our Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Liquid Dish Soap does contain FD&C Color and it is will be listed as the last ingredient, under the products ingredients panel on the back of the label.

At this point, I was done playing their cat-and-mouse games. They took 2 weeks to reply to each email, so I decided to give their customer support line a call.

I voiced my concerns and the woman did confirm that they use artificial coloring because “their customers prefer it”.

Again, I reiterated the fact that they’re blatantly lying to customers outside of their stores. I was promised she’d “have a look into it”.

Well, I decided that I would have a look into it myself.

Straight from Trader Joe’s website:

YES colors derived only from naturally available products³

~ Trader Joe's FAQ

Follow the footnote to find:

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3. Food coloring is anything added to food or beverages for the purpose of changing its color. Some colors, like FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Yellow No. 5 or FD&C Blue No. 2, are derived from coal tar and are processed & manufactured chemically. We NEVER use such colors in our products. Rather, we use only colors derived from naturally available products like plants (e.g. beets, beta carotene, turmeric, annatto, and paprika) and minerals (e.g. titanium dioxide or ferrous gluconate).

Trader joes artificial color

Well, there you have it. Their products are “guaranteed” to not contain any FD&C colors… But, what’s this?

Yup, there it is: FD&C artificial colors in “Next to Godliness” Dish Soaps and Cleaners.

Shame on you, Trader Joe’s, shame on you.

It’s Time to Find a New Grocery Store

Aside from the dishonest ingredients, I have unearthed another problem with Trader Joe’s: their private labels.

Now, I’ve talked about private label before.. In fact, I’m usually a huge fan of the discount! Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s may source their drinks from Pepsi Co (plus other GMO-pushing companies) and slap their label on it.

Without proper labeling, you may inadvertently be supporting food monopolies you would otherwise avoid.

Trader joes and their artificial colorsListen Up, Trader Joe’s:

  • We don’t want artificial colors in our household products (have some faith in your customers!)
  • Trader Joe’s might not sell GMO’s, but we don’t want to support your suppliers that push them
  • We as consumers are not stupid, and we loathe being lied to
  • Fix your shit!

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