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Does Anyone Else Have Issues With Trader Joe's Labeling?
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I have always been a very loyal Trader Joe's customer. However - I find their labeling totally irresponsible! They have MANY products with a "g" icon on front - implying gluten free. However, on the back side of the product , there is often a disclaimer that the product was made on equipment shared with wheat containing products. I have brought it to store managers' attention and I have written the headquarters. The reply was - the "g" just represents no gluten ingredients and went on to say " We are happy to let you know that, now that the FDA has finally passed a ruling on what it means for a product to be 'gluten-free, we will be testing all of the products that currently contain the "G" icon for actual gluten-free status. This process, of course, will take quite some time, but we definitely feel it will improve our allergen control program."

I was disappointed to hear that it took an FDA mandate for Trader Joe's to step up their labeling. I expected a lot more from them. When I replied with my disappointment in them - I never heard back.

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I personally feel that we should be happy that they voluntarily let us know about the shared equipment (or facilities) :) ; since the equipment is thoroughly cleaned between runs, they are not obliged to.

I worry more about the companies that change the ingredients without letting anyone know, just to keep you on your toes :rolleyes: A market I buy from makes their own sausages. They started making a gluten free line and they were good, won a national award with them. Hubs and I both individually compliment them on their sausages. They are very proud of them and declare, (proudly I might add), that they do not put any soy in them either. Yesterday I looked at their sausages.... strange, none are marked gluten free. I read the labels - rice flour, etc., etc., everything fine, and then... I notice hydrolyzed soy protein :o Totally blew me away. :angry:

Yep, just keep on reading the labels and adjust your purchasing according to your own particular needs.

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" We are happy to let you know that, now that the FDA has finally passed a ruling on what it means for a product to be 'gluten-free, we will be testing all of the products that currently contain the "G" icon for actual gluten-free status. This process, of course, will take quite some time, but we definitely feel it will improve our allergen control program."

....News to me, or am I behind the curve? :huh:

http://www.fda.gov/F...s/ucm177323.htm

Currently, there is no Federal regulation that defines the term "gluten-free" used in the labeling of foods. Based upon comments FDA received during its public meeting on "gluten-free" food labeling held in August 2005 and other information available to the Agency, there is no universal understanding among U.S. food manufacturers or consumers about the meaning of a food labeled as "gluten-free." FDA believes that establishing a definition for the term "gluten-free" and uniform conditions for its use in the labeling of foods will ensure that persons with celiac disease are not misled and are provided with truthful and accurate information.

....I heartily agree with Mushroon. Read labels and be comfortable with what you see. And full disclosure helps me make the best decision for me. I prefer to support those companies.

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....News to me, or am I behind the curve? :huh:

Lisa is right, as far as I know. There is a proposed standard of less than 20 parts per million. It has been a proposal for a number of years. :angry:

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As of the last time I checked, about a week ago, it wasn't passed and no one was paying any attention to it.

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I have huge issues with Trader Joe's labeling. For example their frozen Tamales claim to be Gluten Free with the "g" logo. There is NO statement on the back about the facility or equipment. I was sick within minutes.

The same thing has happened with multiple items from TJ's. I know they are not obliged to disclose anything about equipment. But what bothers me is they make such a big deal about being about health, healthy stuff, neighborhood, community, etc. But what they have done is jump on the mercenary "Gluten Free" bandwagon to make some more bucks, when their offerings are NOT technically Gluten Free at all. They are obviously all made on shared equipment, in shared facilities.

The staff are unbelievably uneducated about TJ's Gluten Free products. All go glassy-eyed when I point out that the "g" logo doesn't in fact mean "Gluten Free" it means no gluten ingredients were used, but it's highly likely those lovely tortillas went on the machines right after the last flour tortillas batch.

In summary, TJ's has made me sick too many times with their BS "g" stuff and I won't even shop there any more.

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I'm just glad they're going to start testing. Maybe I can eat some of their chocolate nut products again (since they're made in mixed lines).

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I talked to my dietitian (who also has Celiac disease) about whether I should avoid foods that are made on shared equipment.  She told me that she does not avoid foods made on shared equipment.  Her rationale is that the fact that the company gave you a warning shows that they are at least aware of the problem.  If you instead buy the item from another manufacturer there is no guarantee that the other manufacturer might have the same problem, but might not be warning you about it.

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I'm more comfortable buying TJ's stuff than things made from random companies where I don't know what their manufacturing practices are like. At least I know TJ's has policies in place requiring their manufacturers to use safe allergen-handling practices. Of course there's no way to know how well those policies are actually applied.

 

I figure every time I buy a prepared food from a company that doesn't exclusively specialize in gluten-free foods, I'm taking a risk. 

 

I buy TJ's stuff occasionally, but I wouldn't make their prepared foods (or any prepared foods) a part of my daily diet. I've heard cases of people getting sick from it, but most of my Celiac friends do fine. Same with Amy's brand gluten free things. They're made in shared facilities and often on shared equipment and there's a risk that someone didn't clean things well enough one day and that's a risk you have to live with if you buy prepared foods.

 

And the Applegate recall really gave me pause about buying prepared foods from companies that make gluten-containing foods. 

 

The safest thing is to learn to eat basic fresh foods. To the extent that I can keep my own laying hens and plant my own garden that makes my food chain even more secure; I only wish I could do more. I'm going to try planting buckwheat this year, though. 

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A friend went to visit family recently and the brother in law went to Trader Joe's to buy gluten-free food for him.  An employee told him to get stuff with purple labels.  They got him all sorts of gluten containing things like wheat pretzels.  This would be funny except that a newbie might actually eat the stuff without checking the ingredients for himself.   That is a labeling issue, or maybe an interpretation of label issue.

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I have huge issues with Trader Joe's labeling. For example their frozen Tamales claim to be Gluten Free with the "g" logo. There is NO statement on the back about the facility or equipment. I was sick within minutes.

The same thing has happened with multiple items from TJ's. I know they are not obliged to disclose anything about equipment. But what bothers me is they make such a big deal about being about health, healthy stuff, neighborhood, community, etc. But what they have done is jump on the mercenary "Gluten Free" bandwagon to make some more bucks, when their offerings are NOT technically Gluten Free at all. They are obviously all made on shared equipment, in shared facilities.

The staff are unbelievably uneducated about TJ's Gluten Free products. All go glassy-eyed when I point out that the "g" logo doesn't in fact mean "Gluten Free" it means no gluten ingredients were used, but it's highly likely those lovely tortillas went on the machines right after the last flour tortillas batch.

In summary, TJ's has made me sick too many times with their BS "g" stuff and I won't even shop there any more.

How can you possibly expect anyone who isn't a Celiac or gluten free to be experts on this?  I am not an expert on the diet to control diabetes or any other range of medical problems.

It is up to the individual to learn about their condition and requirements for the diet, not the rest of the world.  I see this all the time on this forum. It's fine to ask questions when new to the diet BUT people need to educate themselves to make the right decisions based on knowledge. 

 

I don't rely on the government to do it for me, either.  Labeling laws would certainly make it easier but most reputable companies disclose ingredients well, considering they are not required to do so.  Do you think those companies who go to all the trouble of being dedicated and certified would make products that make people sick on a regular basis?  They wouldn't last.  There are good companies who do things right so stick to those.  Trader Joe's is a warehouse and make no claims to be dedicated or certified gluten free.  I do not shop there because I am extremely sensitive and I figured that out within the first couple of months of being gluten-free. Some people will do fine with TJ's stuff but I can't eat food from there.  There's a learning curve with Celiac so patience and education are a must!

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How can you possibly expect anyone who isn't a Celiac or gluten free to be experts on this?  I am not an expert on the diet to control diabetes or any other range of medical problems.

It is up to the individual to learn about their condition and requirements for the diet, not the rest of the world.  I see this all the time on this forum. It's fine to ask questions when new to the diet BUT people need to educate themselves to make the right decisions based on knowledge. 

 

I don't rely on the government to do it for me, either.  Labeling laws would certainly make it easier but most reputable companies disclose ingredients well, considering they are not required to do so.  Do you think those companies who go to all the trouble of being dedicated and certified would make products that make people sick on a regular basis?  They wouldn't last.  There are good companies who do things right so stick to those.  Trader Joe's is a warehouse and make no claims to be dedicated or certified gluten free.  I do not shop there because I am extremely sensitive and I figured that out within the first couple of months of being gluten-free. Some people will do fine with TJ's stuff but I can't eat food from there.  There's a learning curve with Celiac so patience and education are a must!

 

Respectfully, you misunderstand me. I don't expect anyone who isn't Celiac or Gluten Free to be an expert.  I didn't say this.  

 

I do expect a large corporation selling food they are branding with a "g" icon to denote Gluten Free, to properly educate their staff about what this own-brand packaging claim means.  

 

I don't expect TJ staff to know whether ANYTHING in their store is Gluten Free, but I do expect them to understand what a TJ branded product labeled with a "g" means.

 

You said Trader Joes makes no claims to be "certified" Gluten Free.  "Certified" being the key word here.  They are however claiming there is no Gluten in specific products, and labeling those products with a special icon. If there is ANY GLUTEN in these products, even a miniscule amount by cross-contamination, then Trader Joes is making a false claim.

 

I am patient, and I do educate where I can.  I was responding to the tone and theme of the original post, and your rant at me is somewhat over the top I think.

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Respectfully, you misunderstand me. I don't expect anyone who isn't Celiac or Gluten Free to be an expert.  I didn't say this.  

 

I do expect a large corporation selling food they are branding with a "g" icon to denote Gluten Free, to properly educate their staff about what this own-brand packaging claim means.  

 

I don't expect TJ staff to know whether ANYTHING in their store is Gluten Free, but I do expect them to understand what a TJ branded product labeled with a "g" means.

 

You said Trader Joes makes no claims to be "certified" Gluten Free.  "Certified" being the key word here.  They are however claiming there is no Gluten in specific products, and labeling those products with a special icon. If there is ANY GLUTEN in these products, even a miniscule amount by cross-contamination, then Trader Joes is making a false claim.

 

I am patient, and I do educate where I can.  I was responding to the tone and theme of the original post, and your rant at me is somewhat over the top I think.

Learn to not be so sensitive.  There was nothing over the top about my reply and I understood perfectly what you meant.  There is gluten free labeling and then there is gluten free reality. 

 

In a company like Trader's, which make no claim to be leaders in the gluten-free world, they may have a "G" logo but that does not mean it is gluten free.  They are a cut rate market so the odds of them testing anything is nil.  However, they do put in the disclaimer, and it is up to you, the consumer, to read this and understand what it might mean.  Many people do fine with shared facilites so these foods would work for them.  If you are more sensitive to cc, then all bets are off.  Soemtimes you might not know if you are still learning and getting sick will be the teaching tool to let you know what you can and cannot tolerate.  For anyone to expect the whole food selling world to 100% ensure that their labeled gluten-free products are 100% gluten-free is wishful thinking.  It would cost too much to do that level of testing, anyway.  You'd pay $10.00 for a loaf of bread.

 

As far as as the staff go, you shouldn't expect them to know anything.  The same with restaurants. Even with gluten-free menu's, there are many who know nothing.  That's where the managers and head chef's come in.  Thsoe are the people you should be talking to because they are in charge and if they don't know what they are doing, then I run and don't look back.  With time, poeple learn what is safe and what isn't and how it all works.  Is it a pain in the beginning?  Sure, but that goes away with time.  It's wonderful when you meet those who get it and are knowledgeable but that isn't reality and you have to work with what we have.

 

You say that Trader's has made you sick many times?  Why would you continue to eat food from a company that made you sick to begin with?  It takes me once of getting sick on something and I know that the product won't work for me. It may work for someone else but not for me and I don't get all mad about it.  I rarely get sick anymore but have been doing this a long time. You have to read a lot of articles and educational material with this diet to get good at it and time is a factor also. But don't expect a lot from those who aren't gluten-free because they don't even know what's in the food THEY eat.  That is not likely to change.  It's really up to us to be as knowledgeable as possible to make sure we make good choices.

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Learn to not be so sensitive.  There was nothing over the top about my reply and I understood perfectly what you meant.  There is gluten free labeling and then there is gluten free reality. 

If your goal here is to help people, 'Learn to not be so sensitive' is entirely non-functional.

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If your goal here is to help people, 'Learn to not be so sensitive' is entirely non-functional.

 

Thank you, I appreciate somebody else saying this.  I am scratching my head to be honest.

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Pretty much reiterating whats been said here but here's another article on issues with Trader Joe's gluten free labeling.  Definitely something to be aware of.

 

http://ithp.org/articles/bewaretraderjoesglutenfree

I don't know who wrote this or how credible they are. When I got to the part about some US law on what is gluten-free, I knew they weren't a reliable source. There is no US law on the meaning of gluten-free.

In the case of apple juice, I would have serious doubts there could be gluten in the juice. Using a little common sense, juice factorys will not be equipped to make cookies ot process flour. Fruit is picked and transported differently then wheat, rye or barley. But if a juice bothers you, don't drink it.

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Yesterday I looked at their sausages.... strange, none are marked gluten free. I read the labels - rice flour, etc., etc., everything fine, and then... I notice hydrolyzed soy protein :

I'm confused. How does soy protein affect gluten free status?

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Yesterday I looked at their sausages.... strange, none are marked gluten free. I read the labels - rice flour, etc., etc., everything fine, and then... I notice hydrolyzed soy protein :

I'm confused. How does soy protein affect gluten free status?

It doesn't . Lots of things are gluten-free and not labelled that way, even at TJs. For example, I don't think any of the cheese is labelled gluten-free, it just is.

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Another product review -- I hope this helps others choosing gluten-free products at Trader Joe's.  I tried their gluten free cupcakes today, and got sick sick sick, in the normal gluten way.  I have also gotten very sick from TJ's gluten-free pizza in the past.  So disappointing from my favorite grocer!  (Their gluten-free waffles, however, are quite good and fortunately have never made me sick.)  However, I will be sticking to Whole Foods from now on for my gluten-free products.  Yes, they're more expensive, but so much more reliable.

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Another product review -- I hope this helps others choosing gluten-free products at Trader Joe's. I tried their gluten free cupcakes today, and got sick sick sick, in the normal gluten way. I have also gotten very sick from TJ's gluten-free pizza in the past. So disappointing from my favorite grocer! (Their gluten-free waffles, however, are quite good and fortunately have never made me sick.) However, I will be sticking to Whole Foods from now on for my gluten-free products. Yes, they're more expensive, but so much more reliable.

Tj's has cupcakes? Pizza? I think I'm slow...I only just now found the waffles.

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The only gluten-free things I've noticed at my TJs are some breads (Udi's I think...) Must depend on where you are and the manager of the store.

 

The manager of the store I go to sticks to what the Trader Joe's website says (pasted below). He also said that the company policy is to include as much information as possible re: shared equipment on labels BUT the manufacturers don't always give them that info. The TJ signage states "no gluten ingredients used" -- for some that seems to be ok. For me, it isn't. I stick to fresh produce, meat and wine from TJs. Anything else I skip.

 

From the website:

 

A set of universal dietary guidelines for Celiac Disease does not exist. The Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) uses criteria based on the latest scientific research and advice from its' Medical Board of Advisors. For information about Celiac Disease please contact the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) at (818) 716-1513, via email at cdf@celiac.org or on the web at www.celiac.org.

  • Our suppliers follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP's) to segregate ingredients on shared equipment and/or in the facility.
  • Always read the label - ingredients and suppliers may change.
  • Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and their derivatives such as malt or spelt.
  • As a general rule of thumb, dairy, juice, meat and produce do not contain gluten or any gluten derivatives.
  • Under Trader Joe's Brands, ingredients listed as "natural flavors" or "spices" do not contain gluten or gluten derivatives.
  • Use common sense and remember the motto: When in doubt, leave it out.
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