Is Trader Joes Organic and GMO-free?

Trader Joes Ralcorp ConAgra

Lately there’s been a rumor circulating about Trader Joe’s that I’d like to dispel: no, ConAgra has not bought Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s is still owned by Germany’s uber-private Albrecht family, ever since TJ’s founder Joe Coulumbe sold it to them back in 1979.

But ConAgra did buy Ralcorp, and Ralcorp is one of the primary manufacturers behind the majority of Trader Joe’s privately labeled, organic, and GMO-free products.

So what does ConAgra’s purchase of Ralcorp mean to the millions of loyal Trader Joe’s fans? Let’s connect the dots…

Trader Joes Brand

1) What does Trader Joe’s do best? Make organic produce and products available to the average consumer at affordable prices.

Strangely however, Trader Joe’s refuses to disclose the sources of these organics. Even their standard vendor agreement states (the) “Vendor shall not publicize its business relationship with TJ’s in any manner.”

In an age of food accountability—in which more and more consumers want to understand where their food comes from and how it’s produced—why is Trader Joe’s insisting on secrecy?

Traders Joes Label

2) How are Trader Joe’s products made? Over 80% are manufactured under their own store label, which they tout as GMO-free.

But TJ’s doesn’t make these products. All of Trader Joe’s store labeled products are made by outside vendors—large corporations who are in business to make store-branded products for a wide variety of grocery and large retail chain stores.

Sometimes vendors will tweak the ingredients of a given product for each grocery store’s particular audience. Most of the time however, the food inside that store-labeled package is the same from store to store—with nothing more than a change in the price and the label; see a few examples here.

Since Trader Joe’s claims that all of the products under their store label are GMO-free, we’ve got to trust that the vendor they’re using is changing more than just the package label—especially since Trader Joe’s is unwilling to release their sources or disclose vendor relationships.

Ralcorp building
One of Ralcorp’s food processing facilities in New York, where layoffs occurred in January 2013

3) So who’s making Trader Joe’s store branded products? All signs point to Ralcorp.

Despite those “keep it secret” vendor agreements, basic financial information was publicly disclosed during ConAgra’s purchase of Ralcorp, including this important fact: two of Ralcorp’s key customers are Costco and Trader Joe’s.

Con Agra headquarters

4) What does ConAgra’s purchase of Ralcorp mean to us as consumers?

With a projected $18 billion in annual sales, the ConAgra/Ralcorp combination will create a “packaged food behemoth“—second only to Kraft Foods (who currently boasts $19 billion in annual sales).

That much dominance in food manufacturing wields significant market clout. Combine that with ConAgra’s stance on GMOs, and you’ve got…

Prop 37 opposing ConAgra

5) What can corporations do with that much clout?

When a corporation doesn’t want to stop manufacturing food with genetically modified ingredients, doesn’t want to tell you that those ingredients are in your food, and has $18 billion in annual sales at their disposal, they can afford to wield some pretty powerful political influence.

Just a few months ago, Ralcorp’s new owner ConAgra donated $1,176,700 to fight California’s GMO labeling Proposition 37—right alongside the “Big Six” GMO crop producers and other major processed food corporations, as itemized in the above chart. (To see the complete list of corporations that donated to oppose GMO labeling, click here.)

To summarize the great Trader Joe’s debate:

Pro:  affordable organics
Con:  organic sources are not disclosed

Pro:  private label products are GMO-free
Con:  private label products are manufactured by Ralcorp, whose parent corporation ConAgra donated $1.17 million to oppose GMO labeling

farmers market

It’s your turn to decide…

If Trader Joe’s is your best option for buying organic food on a limited food budget, I will never discourage that kind of logic. Your health (and the health of your family) is your #1 priority; choosing organics in whatever way is most affordable for you is the right thing to do.

But if you’re scratching your head about a company that lets a “behemoth” vendor make their GMO-free products under the ownership of a corporation that opposes GMO labeling, all while maintaining a strict policy of “don’t disclose,” then maybe it’s time to explore some alternatives, at least now and then.

Whether it’s a farmer’s market, aco-op like PCC Natural Market in Seattle, or an independent organic grocer that’s more transparent about disclosing sources—like The Big Carrot in Toronto, Ontario, Nature’s Food Patch in Clearwater, Florida, Good Earth Natural Foods in Utah and California, or Down to Earth Organic and Natural in Hawaii—at least you’ll know your hard-won consumer dollars aren’t “trickling upstream” to a corporation that wants to keep you in the dark about GMOs.

As No GMO Man said last month, “I believe ConAgra now controls what Dan Bane (Trader Joe’s CEO) will do. I would be singing a different tune if Mr. Bane went to the Non-GMO Project to get (his store-labeled products) verified.”


As of February 2014, a blog reader reported seeing more and more Trader Joe’s Organic branded products with a USDA Organic label on the packaging. Sure enough, we visited our local TJs today and noticed the same thing. This gives us hope that Trader Joes is at last getting third party certification for their organic brand, which is a positive step forward from their previous “don’t ask / don’t tell” approach.


©, February 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific links back to the original content.

133 thoughts on “Is Trader Joes Organic and GMO-free?

  1. I RARELY shop at TJs. They are fake… no way in heck that they have non-gmo across all their store brand. Impossible that they are somehow able to find non-gmo soy or corn that is not organic. It is VERY difficult to find that, very difficult. Sorry I go with Eden Foods, Nature’s Path, or Organic Valley anyday over TJ.

    • I live in central Iowa, we have three choices for healthy foods. Tj’s, Whole foods or the Iowa coop. Tj’s is the most affordable. I try to stay away from any processed food. I too find it very hard to believe that they are using non GMO soybeans or corn across the board. Like I said, I live in Iowa, the number one producer of corn, high yields of soybeans and of course pork. In Iowa if you are a farmer growing non GMO or organic produce, signs have to be posted all over the fields and premises. I’ve seen this once and I’ve lived here most of my life. Rurally.

      • Sign also have to be posted if you are growing GMO corn or soy. I see them in every field, for instance there is alot of Pioneer crops being grown in both Nebraska and Iowa. Pioneewr is a Monsanto and Agroscience puppet company, a GMO pusher.

        • Eric,
          The article that you reference in the attached link clearly indicates that Organic Valley is opposed to GMOs – the beginning of the article defines what a GMO is but the second half that shows Organic Valley’s position on GMOs clearly shows that they do not support these. Where are you seeing that they are in favor of these? By definition, if a product is labelled as “USDA Organic” it cannot contain GMOs;therefore, any product with this label regardless of who produces it will not have GMOs.

        • So sorry Eric – just double checked the above thread. My reply should be directed to Sandra Di. Sorry!

      • Sandra Di – See Eric’s attached article. If a product is labelled as USDA Organic, it does not have GMOs.

        • Michelle
          on May 7, 2014 at 9:11 am said:
          Sandra Di – See Eric’s attached article. If a product is labelled as USDA Organic, it does not have GMOs.
          NOT TRUE!!! 100% organic = No GMOs. It has to be labeled 100% ORGANIC

      • It is not possible to be organic AND use GMO. non-gmo is part of the USDA organic definition. GMO crops by definition are created specifically to be resistant to herbicides, namely Roundup and more recently also 2-4D. GMO seed is more expensive, you wouldn’t buy it without the intent to spray it. Organics cannot be sprayed with herbicides….antithesis of organic.

    • Eden Foods, Nature’s Path, Organic Valley, Stonyfield, and many other “Organic” companies produce for TJ’s. Some product with their own label and some private labeled.

    • TJ’s is still the most affordable, and has the best food and the most GMO free, compared to our choice of Vons/Pavillions, Ralph’s or Foods 4Less. When I went to Foods 4Less to get cash, I was amazed at the rows of junk on their shelves. So for me in MY neighborhood, its TJ’s or Whole Foods! You can also find way MORE non-processed food at TJ than you can find at the other stores I listed. Its a no brainer.

      • Aldi has organic. Stated so USDA organic. TJ doesn’t. Why is that? If its not on the label then it’s otherwise. That’s the main reason I r not shop at TJs.

      • I am curious if anybody else is noticing that TJ’s quality has dropped from it’s previous (acceptable) level. Over the last several years I have noticed that a lot of products just aren’t what they used to be, and I have a growing distrust of TJ’s brand. This really sucks because they used to be my favorite store, but there is less and less that I want to make the trip to the closest branch. Anybody else experiencing the same thing?

  2. Thank you for this article, it presents food for thought without judgement. I am (or have been) a loyal TJ’s customer and I’m reconsidering my stance whether to trust their “non-GMO commitment” in light of their refusal to certify.

      • Also remembering that Trader Joe’s is only 1/2 of the corporation is important. The other half is Aldi’s the mega discount food store on the east coast where cheap food is king. ConAgra is NOT making them gmo-free food. Can this company be making different food for both stores so differently while keeping profit margins? I highly doubt they can make gmo corn chips at .99 cents a bag and make a profit for everyone

      • I have the same concerns; however, I am wondering if the reason they haven’t certified is to keep their products prices competitive. Certification is an additional expense for the company, which would probably mean higher prices. I would like to get their side on this but cannot seem to find much situation.

        • Many products at TJ’s are now certified organic. Look for those items and you will get the best deal in town because they are private labeled but still certified!

          • I think the point is thinking we can save money for the high cost of food by believing the hype from store personnel that TJ’s name brand is Non GMO.

    • I worked at TJ’s for 8 years, until 2008. They use to label their products non gmo (the ones that were) some of the corn chips, among other items. Those labels don’t exist anymore. I too shop at TJ’s often but today I stood there wondering, is this gmo free? It is interesting that I am now reading this and to know that they claim now that everything is gmo free? I just stick to organic if Im in question. They do have many local produce supplier options available here in the Pac northwest Tj’s…which is good.

  3. Holy cow, to find out that all in not well at TJs, which is my go-to market. Who can we believe. Trust me, I will try to get them to come clean.

  4. Straight from TJ’s web site:

    Trader Joe’s Products are Sourced from Non-GMO Ingredients

    December 12, 2012 (updated)

    Our approach to Genetically Modified Organisms is simple: we do not allow GMO ingredients in our private label products (anything with Trader Joe’s, Trader Jose’s, Trader Ming’s, etc. on the label).

    Our efforts began in 2001, when we determined that, given a choice, our customers would prefer to eat foods and beverages made without the use of genetically engineered ingredients.

    When developing products containing ingredients likely to come from genetically modified sources, we have the supplier of the product perform the necessary research to provide documentation that the suspect ingredients are from non-GMO sources. This documentation is in the form of affidavits, identity-preserved certification of seed stock, and third-party lab results from testing of the ingredients in question.

    In addition to this work done in developing a given item, we conduct random audits of items with potentially suspect ingredients, using an outside, third-party lab to perform the testing.

    Given our position on GMO ingredients in Trader Joe’s label products and the work done in support of that position, it is our expectation that our products test as non-GMO.

    We have yet to take the approach of labeling products as non-GMO because there are no clear guidelines from the US governmental agencies covering food and beverage labeling. Instead of waiting for such guidelines to be put into effect and based upon customer feedback, we took a more holistic approach and made the no GMO ingredients position part of what the Trader Joe’s label encompasses.

    We’re unable to make the same claims for branded products (products not in the Trader Joe’s label).

    Organic products, regardless of brand, are by definition non-GMO.

    • I find it extremely unbelievable that TJ is not labeling their Trader Joe’s labels with “NON-GMO” as big as the box because there are “no clear guidelines from the US governmental agencies covering food and beverage labeling”. What BS! If it were really non gmo they would label it, guidelines or no guidelines. Simply because it would sell even more. I suspect TJ is not labeling it because they are lying and if one day somebody proves beyond a doubt that the TJ brands ARE MODIFIED Trader Joe will say: Hey, we never put it in writing on any of our boxes, and as we all know only the written word is what counts!

  5. The first issue is that this article claims that Trader Joe’s claims all of their house brand products are organic, which is not true. They do claim, however, that all of their house brand products are GMO free. Only the products with organic on the label are supposed to be organic. Secondly, all organic products have to be certified by an outside source; most of Trader Joe’s products are certified by Quality Assurance International or Oregon Tilth. You can have products that are GMO free, but not organic… But not products that are organic and include GMO’s. So there are some fundamental claims in the article that aren’t true… Though that does not mean they don’t raise valid concerns about the acquisition.

    • Thanks for your comment but I’m not sure how you read these conclusions into this article… Trader Joes’ brand is indeed validated by the company as GMO free, but only about 80% of their branded products are organic (and I’m not certain of that percentage as Trader Joes does not disclose it on their website, so the sources I’ve found are all based on guesstimates). I absolutely agree about products being GMO-free but not organic (as I’ve written about on my “Is Organic Always GMO Free” blog post)… so I think we’re on the same side of the fence? 🙂

    • I have read and reread the above article and can’t see anywhere that TJ
      is claiming that all of their house name products are organic. Just GMO free.


      • Clay, this article does not make that claim. Trader Joe’s offers a variety of organic products, labeled “Trader Joe’s Organic _____” (garbanzo beans, bread crumbs, marinara sauce, chili, etc. etc.), but their in-house label does not state or imply organic, it only asserts non-GMO. This article attempts to point out that Ralcorp is the primary manufacturer of Trader Joe’s products (whether or not they’re also labeled as organic), and to disclose TJ’s reluctance to offer more transparency about their sources to the consumer.

  6. I just finished shopping at a Trader Joe’s a few hours ago and I’ve been wondering the same thing for a while now so I asked an employee for the third time if all their brand name products were indeed GMO free and he reassured me that we were…. I say BS!!.
    Almost all of their products have some form of Soy, Corn or Oils and nowhere on the label does it say “Non-GMO”

      • I have a problem with the first link (occupy Monsanto) they are stating that Trader Joes is claiming Organic on some of their private labels without certification from the USDA. However, they have been certified by QAI and Oregon Tilth…which means if it bears one of these marks, it IS certified. So I don’t think that these posts are very accurate. I do know they use to have some of their products labled non GMO (if it was) but I do wonder if really is ALL non GMO. I worked for TJ’s for 8 years until 2008 and I know that they do have the public interest and health in mind for their customers not share holders.

      • I would also like to point out in the Huffington Post article it is saying they have blind taste tested product “RUMORED” to be the supplier of some of the Trader Joe’s labels. “Therefore since Trader Joe’s claims their products to be non GMO then the “RUMORED” manufactures product should be as well.” Well just as an example it says rumored and I know for a fact the Nabisco does not supply the mentioned comparable products, such as the Tj’s Woven Wheats and the Wheat Crisps….if you actually compare the ingredients they are different.

        I don’t mean to be negative here because I too questioned it, but I feel like soem people feel the need to beat a dead horse…so for those people I feel the need to say this. I keep reading over and over not only on this site but others, that many of you have read the following and post the following

        “Trader Joe’s website says….. “Our approach to Genetically Modified Organisms is simple: we do not allow GMO ingredients in our private label products (anything with Trader Joe’s, Trader Jose’s, Trader Ming’s, etc. on the label).

        Our efforts began in 2001, when we determined that, given a choice, our customers would prefer to eat foods and beverages made without the use of genetically engineered ingredients.

        When developing products containing ingredients likely to come from genetically modified sources, we have the supplier of the product perform the necessary research to provide documentation that the suspect ingredients are from non-GMO sources. This documentation is in the form of affidavits, identity-preserved certification of seed stock, and third-party lab results from testing of the ingredients in question.

        In addition to this work done in developing a given item, we conduct random audits of items with potentially suspect ingredients, using an outside, third-party lab to perform the testing.”
        When you keep asking the same question over and over again and wonder WHY Trader Joes’ wont answer…well people, they already answered the question, so no matter how many times you ask them the answer is still going to be the same.

        I AGREE that they should go back to putting that NON GMO label on their, but lets face it we want cheep food and a dumb little stamp from that certification co. cost more money. I really just have to have faith that Trader Joe’s is not going to LYE on their website that they really do not want GMO’s in their store and do everything to keep them out.
        Thank you…sorry I had to write a book about it.

      • Same thing yesterday @ TJ”s. Asked specifically about the Tj”s labeled non organic chicken. Was told by one fellow that it was definitely non GMO and when he had no answer for some of my questions directed me to another fellow . I asked wether or not the chickens were fed genetically modified corn and he just kept on repeating that all TJ labeled products are non GMO, antibiotic free.and,”natural” (which means nothing ((MSG is natural). Replied that it’s the vendors choice wether or not to use the non GMO certification on the label when I questioned that. So i’m assuming that if TJ”s can’t even dictate the labeling to their vendors they surely can’t dictate the ingredients..
        So I’ll no longer be buying the TJ labeled chicken that I really like (especially love the taste and convenience of the fully cooked roasted chicken patties)
        Should’ve realized sooner that @ $2.49 for 8oz of chicken patties with no fillers that those chickens were not being fed a non GMO diet.
        Will gladly pay more for these and if they were certified non GMO

  7. So glad someone is writing about this… I DID contact TJs via email and asked them… ok, so your cornstarch, your baking soda, your salad dressings… all GMO free? Really? I am still waiting for a response and it’s been about two months now. Truth be known, I LOVE to shop at TJs because I think the store is fun but I don’t trust their non-GMO claims either. This is what their website says: “When developing products containing ingredients likely to come from genetically modified sources, we have the supplier of the product perform the necessary research to provide documentation that the suspect ingredients are from non-GMO sources. This documentation is in the form of affidavits, identity-preserved certification of seed stock, and third-party lab results from testing of the ingredients in question.

    In addition to this work done in developing a given item, we conduct random audits of items with potentially suspect ingredients, using an outside, third-party lab to perform the testing.

    Given our position on GMO ingredients in Trader Joe’s label products and the work done in support of that position, it is our expectation that our products test as non-GMO.”

    • I hear ya! It’s so hard to decide. I want to support companies that provide affordable organic options to the average consumer, I want to believe they are doing everything in their power to keep their brand GMO-free, I want to believe their unwillingness to divulge their sources is just a corporate privacy thing, I want to believe RalCorp can manufacture products for two different grocery store chains and truly separate the non-GMO from the GMO… but… I keep having this deep “hmm” feeling in my gut…

      • Me too! That “hmm” feeling in my gut is something akin to… if their food is truly non-GMO, how can they keep their prices so low? The obvious answer is “no way”. And why haven’t they responded to my email? My gut instinct here is that TJs is in over their trader-heads on this one and it’s a good bet that their top decision makers are unaware of the true scope of GMOs in American food. Although I know they are owned by Albrecht, a German company… it’s just such a mystery. I told them flat in my email that unless they can be more transparent about their so-called non-GMO status, I would only buy certain products from them.

      • I also found another few sites such as the food inc. website talked about Trader Joes being a good place for non GMO products. I have to say that I did wonder but in doing some more research I am convinced they must be doing all they can to keep GMO foods out or their store. Also, I just wanted to show that Trader joes shouldn’t be the only store to point the finger at. Whole foods is a very expensive “Organic store that I would walk into and think everything in here is “safe” food. But they are shelving GMO products without telling people as well as selling products with msg and so forth.

        • Speaking of Whole Food (WF), over 2 months ago we bought some organic red grapes that were left in the fridge for 2 weeks. When we returned, the grapes were as good as new. I asked the customer service representative and the produce manager in our WF store in Friendship Heights-DC, they did not have a clear explanation, then I tried several times to find and talk to the store manager, he was never available. We decided to keep the grapes and see how long it takes for them to decompose, and become rotten. They are still there, and without exaggeration they are only a bit softer, nonetheless they look pretty good and edible. We lived in Europe; we know that even non-organic grapes do not last more than one week or 10 days at most, after that they become moldy.

          Although conveniently located just a few minutes from us, we started to shop at TJs store in Georgetown, which is inconveniently far from us. We also noticed that we are saving money too. However, because of polycystic kidney disease in our family, we have to be supper careful about the kind of food we consume. TJs customer service personnel have reassured us that their own entire brand is GMO free, but now this article has made me concerned.

          Two questions: Can TJs take such a risk lying about their brands? Because it can be detrimental to them if it is found out! Second, can some consumer organization randomly test these products and inform the public about their qualities?

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  11. Several thoughts that occur to me are:
    1) The big issue seems to be distrust because TJ’s won’t disclose who makes their products. While the “I won’t dignify that with a answer!” response does breed suspicions, I wonder if it is based on a) honoring a proprietary brand not wanting it known that you can get their same product for, say 20-40% less by getting a store brand or, b) the supplier they use may change as market prices do in order to keep their costs down.

    2) As far as TJ’s not labeling their products as being GMO free, I wonder if that is a stance their legal department suggests they take based on the fact that, based on my understanding, a non-GMO source can at any time become tainted with GMO’s as they cross-pollinate. By the time it comes to be known, how much product did they sell labeled as GMO-free that wasn’t, risking lawsuits?

    3) As to ConAgra/Ralcorp, my understanding is that even Whole Foods has given in to the Big Business/GMO behemoth as the Way of The World and acquiescing to just holding to their corner of the market; I presume with the hope that people’s choice will end up guiding market practices.

    4) Their prices being lower could come from them not having the research and development costs that a proprietary brand shoulders, and, unlike the proprietary brand, they may not need the same profit margin per item since their margin is spread over a larger inventory.

    Not being a farmer, producer or supplier, I don’t know; any/all of these make sense to me from my limited perspective. But if any are true, why don’t they say so?

  12. I’m in sacramento and shop at the TJs on Marconi Ave. My family were getting stomach aches so I traced the lot # of their milk to Clover in Sonoma County. I called and spoke to the head director to ask her if they fed their cows non gmo she said only if it is organic. I said why does Trader Joe’s claim that anything with their label is non gmo sourced? She said that they have to use GMO feed for their non organic milk it’s too too expensive. So I talked to Trader Joe’s; they called headquarters and they said that they can’t find any farmer that is non-gmo non-organic for the price. So for sure the milk is gmo fed cows with the Traders label, and that goes for the cheese and eggs in any store, even co-op stores, so anything with milk cheese or eggs that is not organic is gmo fed animals, unless it says 100% grass fed or non gmo verified it’s gmo. So that frozen cheese pizza with the Traders label is gmo fed too.

    Only the organic cheese, eggs, and grass cheese is safe so even if prop 37 would have passed that non organic fed cow or chicken is not included. If it’s not organic or grass fed cheese milk or eggs don’t eat it. This issue escapes the rules no matter what. If you have to shop there buy only organic.

    Strauss was selling organic milk that was gmo fed for awhile before they found out, then they posted a letter of apology on the milk shelves.

    The organic corn chips gives stomach aches to many people I know so I sent in for a quality check on those. My answer was that they noted it at headquarters, but they need more people to complain first. Also their roast beef hash from Brazil had roaches in it; they sent someone to Brazil to investigate and found that the meat was tainted with lack of refrigeration, so that company shut down and rebuilt a new one. Then the hash had a better color to it but now it no longer is being sold.

    I know all the people who work there and I’ve spent a lot of time sending emails and calls to headquarters through them about a lot of tricky labeled ingredients for 7 years.

    So only buy organic and avoid soy and corn. Organic chickens are being fed organic corn and soy which gets contaminated off and on, so to be really safe buy grass fed cheese and meat, and non soy and corn fed chicken eggs. That is the level I have learned from years of researching the food store.

    • I have to wonder about the Trader Joe’s pizza because most of them come from Italy. According to what I have been reading, aren’t GMO’s banned from many of European countries? I started think about this after my posts. Trader Joes has alot of their products made in Europe, also they are a smaller chain which means they are not “mass producing” their labels, which to me means it is easier to source non GMO products for their private label. Again when I worked their many things were labeled when they were non GMO, but such labeling is no where in sight these days.

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  14. Everyone on May 25th Join a march against monsanto near you! Can’t find one? ORGANIZE! We want labels and have the RIGHT TO KNOW!

  15. I contacted trader joe’s about their statement on GMO’s and animal products and they basically said that they do not consider animal feed an ingredient. Here is what they said

    “Thank you for your email. Animals that are not raised to organic standards can receive feed that contains gmo sourced ingredients. The only way to ensure an animal that produces, eggs, dairy, meat does not get gmo sourced feed is to purchase organic. We do not make any claims about the feed as it is not considered an ingredient.”

    I responded back with more questions about their statement on gmo’s and never heard back….

    I no longer trust trader joe’s and I am very upset that they claim their products as GMO free when not all of them are.

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  17. Now I don’t know where to shop, I can’t afford Whole Paycheck, we have a co-op, but besides produce, it’s really pricey, I’ve just always shopped at TJ’s, It’s what I can afford. But now knowing that their parent companies have contributed to much to a cause I despise, I feel conflicted and frustrated and I’m not sure what to do next.

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  20. Everybody needs to the see “The Symphony of the Soil” film which demonstrates an important reason to oppose GMOs, which is the destructive effect the herbicide RoundUp has on the soil. It’s long-term guaranteed dependence on chemically-addicted ag practices. The same producer made “The Future of Food” about GMOs in general and I think it’s on YouTube. But “Symphony” needs to get on PBS in a hurry and if it doesn’t it’s a terrible indication that big business controls PBS. The film is not just informative but a quite beautiful work of art.

  21. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each
    time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment.

    Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

  22. Trader Joes uses 3rd party verification to ensure their store brand is GMO free. Suspect crops are independently verified. Trader Joes will stop doing business with producers and suppliers who cut corners and do not meet their specifications. This is why items can get discontinued, even if they were popular

  23. I will not purchase a product that does not have a Non-Gmo certificate. I do not understand why
    a large, well off, company like Trader Joes wouldn’t choose to be certified. I used to spend my
    hard earned money buying groceries there. Trader Joes you will not see one penny from me unless you certify. It is taking every ounce of my love and compassion to not be very angry with the brands I purchased thinking I was buying good wholesome food for my family and loved ones only to find out they contained GMO. Shame on them, Shame on the corporations that have a problem with labeling their products.

  24. Well, all I can say is I have a built-in food tester – my gut. I haven’t had any Irritable bowel symptoms with any of the tJ label products. I have when I partake of food that is not organic or preservative free. Yes, be inquisitive and not believe everything told you, but at the same time, let’s not be so hasty to assume the opposite extreme. “Well, since I can’t prove it’s good they must be lying.” What kind of critical thinking skill is that based on ? Where else can you buy grass-fed beef from New Zealand for $5.99 a pound ? I again, I just have this “gut feeling” literally. speaking feeling

    • Interestingly, every time I eat the “organic corn chips” from Trader Joe’s, lately, my allergies flare up, so I am suspecting, that there is something not 100% organic. I have no “research” to back this up, only my own body’s reaction. I suggest all of you reading this, also ask yourself if you are feeling any food sensitivities from supposedly “organic, non GMO” foods that TJ’s sells.

  25. Hi, I am just wondering if TJ’s branding is not trust worthy, then how about that of Costco? On your non-GMO brands list, Kirkland is listed and I was happy to see that. But, if Costco and TJ’s are both the key customers of the same manufacturer, how is it that TJ’s branding cannot be trusted but Costco’s brand can be trusted? I am not trying to oppose or defend anyone, just being inquisitive…and yes partially hoping that I could trust TJ’s brands because if I couldn’t then I couldn’t trust Costco’s brand either and these are the key grocers for my home. Before I start going out to different stores, I would like to have your advice. Thank you.

    • Midori, you raise an excellent point that has occurred to us too. We have not had the time to do a thorough investigation of Costco’s “Kirkland” brand, but hope to in early 2014. Our personal shopping list skews towards “family owned” organic brands, but we recognize that the cost of organic food at TJs and Costco may be the best affordable option for some families… and as we said above, if that’s the case, we’d rather see families buying corporate organic than no organic at all. Thanks for an insightful comment!

  26. If TJ’s will ot alow the NON-GMO Project test their product then they are lying to everyone about their stance and in fact are poisoning their customers, plain and simple. If you get cancer or diabetes and have been using them for your families food supply, sue them because they have falsely led you to believe they were serving healthy foods when in fact they have been knowingly lying to you, which is in fact the case.

  27. I am so sad that this is more likely than not TRUTH, I spend so much of my hard earned $’s at trader joes, simply trying to make certain my kids are eating food that will give them a chance at life and not take them out of here with some sort of food enduced cancer. This site is opening my eyes but leaves me in such a dismal place. I live in the Nations Capital and have to travel to MD now for sure to get good food at a much higher cost. This world is a mess theyd rather the people eat empty calorie trash filled with chemicals and killer diseases verses keeping people alive and in a position to self heal from the benefits of safe, pesticide free, clean food!

  28. This unique blog post, “Is Trader Joes Organic and GMO-free?
    | GMO Awareness” ended up being terrific. I’m printing out a replicate to show
    my associates. Thank you,Wilbur

  29. Trader Joe’s is affordable.
    I tend to buy fruits and veges fr local farm – apples are not shiny, veges are sold as is its true coloring! TJ’s apples are labeled organic, tastes organic, but they have a perfect shine to them! Makes you wonder!
    EDEN products are certified organic, very expensive.

    Taste the taste of the foods that you buy and those that you feed your families with.
    Be an informed consumer
    Be inquisitive
    Be knowledgeable of the hoopla that the media presents

  30. I have just recently read your article and have a couple of questions if you wouldn’t mind.

    Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to shop – I love it. Partly due to the affordability of their items but also due to the quality and variety of their products – due to health issues, I cannot have refined sugar or caffeine – I also prefer not to have a lot of excess salt. Trader Joe’s has many products that meet those criteria and I prefer the quality to that of what I find at Whole Foods – I am not a large fan of the 365 Everyday Brand.

    My question is this: Most of what I purchase are Organic products. Is your concern with Trader Joe’s regarding the Organic Products they sell or with the non-Organic products that are part of the “Trader Joe’s” brand label? All of the Organic Products I have purchased there have the USDA Organic certification on the label – if their products have been inspected/certified by the USDA, why would there be a reason to doubt the authenticity of what they are selling? Might be that I am missing something but just wanted to understand.


    • In your case, it sounds like most of what you’re finding bears the USDA Organic label, which gives us far more confidence than an in-house label without such third-party verification. Our concern comes with any national chain that 1) uses a manufacturer who is focused on processed, non-organic production with no transparency about the separation between organic and non-organic; 2) makes claims about organic and/or GMO-free on a label without 3rd party testing / certification; and 3) does not disclose the sources of their organic products (with TJ’s organic milk being one of the more obvious examples). Again, if what you’re buying at TJs has the USDA Organic insignia, here’s hoping that’s a positive sign that TJs is having more of their in-house organic labeled products tested and certified in that way.

      • Thank you very much – I understand now. I just went and checked the items that I purchased there yesterday and all of the Organic Products have two certifications on the label – the “Quality Assurance” certified Organic (not really sure what this reflects) as well as the USDA Organic certification. Therefore, as you suggest, looks like they might be moving in a positive direction in that respect. I agree that it is difficult to trust the non-Organic Trader Joe’s brand products that say they are non-GMO but do not have any type of outside testing – I prefer the “Non-GMO Project Verified” logo that is found on products at Whole Foods as well as some larger chain grocery stores – gives a greater sense of confidence. With respect to the Trader Joe’s brand, it is so difficult at this time to eliminate all GMOs from our diet as they are so pervasive – my feeling has been that if Trader Joe’s brand at least has less GMOs than I might find in other products that is at least a positive step. However, given the choice, I would always prefer something with the Non-GMO Project label. Thank you again.

        • I was able to visit my local TJs this week and found that a great number of their Trader Joe’s Organic-branded products are now bearing the USDA Organic label. Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention… we’ve added an “Important Update” at the end of this post!

  31. Pingback: gduncan229's Blog | What I learned today Feb 21st - gduncan229's Blog

  32. Pingback: Why should I eat, GMO FREE FOODS « FoxyAnFit

  33. Being a die hard TJ’s shopper I hope they will continue to be Non-GMO and use a third party to corroborate what they advertise. Also, Sprouts Family Market is located in California and also offers an alternative to TJ’s with similar if not better pricing and a different selection from TJ’s.

  34. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a Chemistry lab, but it would seem to be fairly straight forward to test these food products for Glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup), 2,4-D (Dow’s Agent Orange), the GMO Corn toxin, and whatever is Du Ponts equivalent version. I suspect the residual pesticides and herbicides are as least as harmful as the GMO content itself. I for one would like to see all the packaged foods undergo a lab test. Why don’t organizations such as Consumer Reports do such testing??

      • If the various non-organic food products are tested for herbicides and pesticides – then why don’t the numbers get published? Are the toxic residues too small to be interesting??? Would certainly seem to be of interest to fellow consumers if and how the herbicide and pesticide levels compare to the corporate donations for fighting GMO labeling. Also if how does Traders Joe’s stack up in the lab on their “non-GMO” claims.

  35. Pingback: My Beef with Trader Joe’s | Tao Te Ching Daily

  36. Pingback: Ask Trader Joe’s CEO for clarification on GMO policy | Green Wei Blog

  37. Pingback: GMO Labeling: What Are We Eating? And Who Doesn’t Want Us To Know?


  39. I’ve worked at Trader Joe’s for 8 years and they mis label food all the time. The food is full of preservatives, artificial color/flavoring, and GMO’s. There have been a couple of lawsuits about the labeling, but with the pro-corporate atmosphere in the country they got squashed. Basically, “you get what you pay for.” Trader Joe’s has cheap food, and they don’t care about lying to you to sell it.

    Trader Joe’s also hires those companies that go on social media and the press to “protect their reputation” by false advertising and attacking anyone who criticizes them.

    And think about the Managers who glowingly praise the company. Trader Joe’s goes out of their way to hire High School drop outs and people with little opportunities in life for management positions. They throw salaries of $80,000 to $140,000 a year at them. That’s designed to get them to say anything the company wants. But since the economy collapse of 2008, many TJ’s hourly employees are college educated and come from industry backgrounds. We just shake our heads at the level of deception and brain washing that goes on.

  40. So if it’s labeled organic whether fruit vegetables or others can we assume it is non gmo and ok at trader joes

  41. The safe choice is to avoid any publicly traded corporation. When a beloved organic brand sells out, I immediately stop buying that brand. Often changes to the ingredients will be made before the labeling gets updated. Either start growing your own food locally, or start supporting those who do. I do both. Do it now so they can ramp up to meet growing demand.

  42. I agree with the 9/18/2015 post from GMO Awareness. Non-GMO certification is good but not sufficient. YOU MUST LOOK FOR USDA ORGANIC. GMO crops can have genetic modifications so the corn for example, BT variety, actually secretes a pesticide via gene added from a virus – this actually kills feeding caterpillars. BUT, the other thing GMO’s are engineered for obviously is to survive herbicides like Roundup (glyphosate active ingredient) and now 2-4’D; and Lord help us Dow now has patents pending on seed resistant to FOUR herbicides concurrently. AAAHHH!!! The Roundup has created at least 21 varieties of “super weeds” which are resistant to Roundup. So the answer is more herbicides of course; not reevaluating the premise that it was a good idea when evidence is staring them in the face that the weeds will adapt. BUT HERE’S THE THING….they spray Roundup on NON-GMO plants as well close to harvest time because it is a drying agent. Wheat, canola, flax, beans, peas, garbanzo, oats, other grains and legumes; sugar cane, cotton (think tampons ladies). So even non-gmo’s can be sprayed with Roundup and Glyphosate is BAD NEWS, and it is made worse by the surfactants in the formula to help it “stick” to the plant to be absorbed. You cannot wash it off, it’s action to kill and dry is systemic, it is INSIDE the plant. It is an endocrine disruptor at very low levels of exposure. it kills microbes in your gut. Seed oils, canola and soy bean oil especially, have the highest allowable levels of most food stuffs. Do a pantry check on how many things in your pantry contain these oils. Salad dressings, marinades, baked goods, crackers, mayo and other condiments. Endocrine disruption demonstrated at point two (.2) ppm, oils twenty ppm allowed. They say it does not bio-accumulate. then why do they need allowable limits on meat fed gmo-feed???

  43. Thank you so much for this! I
    About a year ago I went to trader joes and clearly saw two separate corn batches. One with a sign that said the type of corn it was and the price. The other batch had a sign that said non GMO and it had a complete different price. I was so happy because until that day I hadn’t bought corn from them because I was unsure and I even thought to myself who would opt for the corn that didnt say non gmo.

    Well I went back to store a couple of weeks later and there was just one batch. I asked one of the employees what was up with the corn and he said all their corn was non GMO. I was soo confused! If that was the case then why would there have been two batches! This is the only picture I ever regret not taking! Ever since this I’ve been wondering and doing more research.

  44. Does anyone know of a lab in the Pacific Northwest to get food tested?? I’m especially concerned about TJ’s ‘organic frozen corn’! They say it’s from a farm nestled in the foothills of the Cascade mountains. I’ve also heard it’s almost Impossible to get organic corn in the U.S. Thank you!

    • We have no specific recommendations for you, however searching for “food testing lab” on google brings up a variety of companies, along with a google map indicating if any companies are in your area.

  45. I believe everyone has the right to know of existing GMO’S and GMO ingredients that are in the food we consume. Make Monsanto and other corperations label their Frankenproduce, harmone fed livestock, and farmed raised fish
    which haven’t really been tested throughly. These corperations lieing to consumers. Why do you think many European counties want allow then. Some will if they are properly labeled. These countries have nonfiltered news that let the Europeans know what lies are being told to the very gullible Americans. So are aware, majority of them believe what the corperations and do believe GMO’S are good for them. Really!!!!!!

  46. It is unfortunate that some people have to rely on food pantries. Thank God they are there. But when the food is already out dated or already going bad that is very sad for us. My family deserves good food, fresh food. It just isn’t right. Thank you Patrice

    • Aldi for example is out if Germany. They have their own label. They sell products that are diffenately labeled organic. Haven’t seen 1 product that is harmone free or organic. Dairy produced in the US
      If not so labeled then you can expect hormones in them. Products from the European Union such as Kerrygold is a nonhormone product. The produce isn’t labeled organic. If I bought produce and dairy products test them for pesticides,
      Hormones and GMOs, what do you think I’ll find? I would go public with my findings. What do you think would happen to that trust??? Anything with soy or corn especially produced in the US are GMOs. SL
      Do you can bet in the near future my associate will proceed with testing TJs products and the truth will be public.

  47. Pingback: Trader Joe’s Top 10 – Embracing the Essentials

  48. It is so very sad that there’s no one or anything you can trust today. And it’s all due to the mighty buck. In thinning out the herd. The people with the big bucks have accomplished ruining this wonderful world our Foods and the environment. I hope these tycoons possess organic money and choke on it. You people are totally evil. You don’t care about the future of your own offsprings. This is mankind. Self-serving.

  49. It’s sad politics are in food we have to survive off of what we put in or bodies why lie to the common vegan or vegetarian who wants organic food 🤔 can some of us not be sacrificed please big companies with all the money in the world which comes from a tree 🤦‍♂️💁‍♂️🤷‍♂️oops food I say that whole foods is the right choice……

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