Chinese Goods No Longer Welcome At Trader Joe's

Caving to xenophobia, Trader Joe’s announced that it will purge its shelves of all single-ingredient Chinese products by January 1. Will consumers be any safer?

No. The company readily admits that the move is largely symbolic.

“We feel confident that all of our products from China meet the same high quality standards that we set for all of our products,” the statement read. “However, our customers have voiced their concerns about products from this region and we have listened.

“We will continue to source products from other regions until our customers feel as confident as we do about the quality and safety of Chinese products.”

The Chinese Poison Train rarely fells single-ingredient products, preferring to instead grace constituent ingredients like wheat gluten. Though the announcement – the first of its kind among major retailers – will not make consumers any safer, it is the most pernicious indication yet of consumers skepticism towards foreign goods.

Whole Foods has no plans to implement a similar ban.

Trader Joe’s just says no to China [Chicago Sun-Times]
(Photo: Getty Images)


Edit Your Comment

  1. C2D says:

    You talk about heath food stores and yet you post a picture of bunch of fat people shopping. LOL!

  2. madanthony says:


    but they are fat people shopping at a Trader Joe’s – note the Hawaiian shirt clad employee, the word Joe in the background, and the impressive collection of soymilk.

  3. suburbancowboy says:

    It is amazing to me that despite having to ship produce all the way across the ocean, it is still cheaper to grow it in China.
    Probably partially thanks to the lax rules about pesticides and the definition of “Organic”.

  4. twid says:

    @C2D and @surburbancowboy

    I think you’re both a bit confused. Trader Joe’s is not a health food store, it’s basically an upscale convenience store. While they do have some organic and healthy food, they are probably best known for moving cases of $2-a-bottle wine.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like TJ’s, but a health food store it is not.

  5. Keter says:

    Definitely Trader Joe’s is listening to the voice of the customer. Retailers don’t stay in business by stocking things people don’t want to buy. There’s no excuse to tolerate even the slightest risk of being made ill by inappropriate ingredients, pesticides and other chemicals, or genetic modifications to foods, whether or not the food is considered “legal” or “safe” by the toady FDA. Since the FDA can’t or won’t force food producers and importers to clean up their act and provide foods the consumers want, consumers are forced to do the obvious — not buy the suspect foods.

    Trader Joe’s and a few other groceries seem to be learning the lesson from the consumer backlash against the contaminated pet food — many stopped buying pet food and started making their own…and never went back because our animals became so healthy on the homemade food it became obvious that either all of the food was contaminated or all of it was so inferior that it shouldn’t be called “food.”

    Can you imagine the impact on grocer’s bottom lines if very many people stopped buying the most commonly available (and profitable) processed and non-organic foods, and started making their own meals from scratch again? What if people discover that many of their health problems go away when they eat foods they can identify and control? That has the power to change both the grocery business and the so-called health care business.

    It is not only a disgrace but a very serious threat to national security that we are not able to produce basic foods to feed our people and have to import it…when I was little, my mother used to force me to clean my plate saying “think of all of the starving children in China.” Why are we now reliant on “starving” people to feed us? We shouldn’t be. This country used to feed the world…this change is not random.

  6. brendon22 says:

    way to demagogue an issue, lifehacker. a fear of foreign products doesn’t necessarily constitutes a manifestation of xenophobia. xenophobia is by definition, an irrational, or unreasonable, fear of foreigners. and while xenophobia may manifest itself as a fear against foreign goods, the case against the chinese (as a people) as the root of consumer concerns, is subterfuge. a good portion of the people who fear products from china are reasonably relying on consumer product reports not only by trusted (believe that if you want) media agencies, but the inability of the main regulatory agencies to reassure consumers that such products are anomalies in commerce. so before you start calling consumers xenophobes, pay attention to the issue at hand: fear of chinese products is largely based on the information reasonable available to everyday consumers, and the ability of market and regulatory forces to mitigate those claims, and not primarily the fear of foreigners (not in this case at least).

  7. Mr. Gunn says:

    It’s nice that a store is listening to customer concerns, but in this case it seems like they’re listening to the most vocal but rather uninformed contingent. As mentioned in the post, ceasing to stock single-ingredient items isn’t likely to do anything to make people safer, it’ll just shut up some loudmouthed xenophobes would would be better silenced by large quantities of duct tape.

    I dislike loudmouthed agitators that don’t know what they’re talking about more than I dislike unresponsive companies, because it’s the loudmouthed, ignorant agitators that cause companies to be unresponsive in the first place.

  8. Darren666 says:

    Carey, this would be xenophobia (look up the definition please, before embarrassing yourself) only if Trader Joe’s banned all outside goods. By banning a single country only, they are not xenophobic according to the definition of the word.


  9. TWinter says:

    I have no problems buying exotic food items from the other side of the world. But I do wonder what the hell is going on when ordinary stuff that grows just fine where I live is coming from places so far away.

    My supermarket regularly has fresh apples from New Zealand. And I recently saw a jar of peaches from China.

    Why on earth are we importing peaches from China when peaches grow quite well in many areas of the US? Why? And apples grow almost everywhere, so why the hell ship them all the way from New Zealand? It’s not even like New Zealand is a dirt poor country with cheap labor. The economics of things like this just don’t make sense to me. It just seems so unnecessary.

  10. Crazytree says:

    the bottom line is that when you’re buying Chinese goods, you cannot depend on them to deliver what you’re paying for.

    they will spend so much time lying, concealing and conniving that if they put all that effort into making a good product… they would be world-leaders in quality.

  11. West Coast Secessionist says:

    GOOD! This is not xenophobia, it’s “fuck-china-ism”– and I for one agree with it. ANY reduction in Chinese crap is welcome. And I will shop there more because of it. It doesn’t matter that it’s only single-ingredients. It’s still a step in the right direction.

    For all you who think this is terrible xenophobia, how about you tell me ONE GOOD REASON why I should trust anything from that filthy, corrupt, unregulated den of thieves. Pardon me for being a little unforgiving when it comes to my family’s health and well-being, but I would NEVER trust FOOD from China after seeing how poisonous most of their non-food items are.

    Can you imagine what would happen to China if the whole world just said, “BZZT! Unacceptable. Go away and come back when you can guarantee quality and guarantee no human rights abuses. Until then we’re not buying any of your shit.” Now that would be awesome.

  12. Antediluvian says:

    Your market has New Zealand apples for the same reason they have Chilean raspberries and asparagus, and South African apples: their growing seasons are reversed from ours, and with the advent of “cheap” shipping, all different kinds of fresh produce is now available at all times of the year.

    It may or may not taste good, uses a whole lot of carbon to bring it to the US, and other countries’ working conditions and pesticide regulations are probably more lax than ours, but all that be damned if it means we (the country) get blueberries in January.

    Our society is fast becoming accustomed to eating produce out of season. This is not a good thing.

  13. Buckus says:

    I know this seems kind of stupid to ask, but what counts as a single-ingredient item?

    I always went to TJ’s for their cheese selection, but other stores have surpassed them for that.

  14. Darren666 says:

    @buckus: Probably items, such as vegetables, fruits, and juices that are labeled with a country of origin.

    Other products often have several component ingredients and are not required to label their country of origin, so it would be impossible to identify which ones contained Chinese ingredients or not.

  15. Chris H says:

    Why is this xenophobia? TJ obviously has to say that there is no problem with their current products (they could be liable for selling them if they acknowledged a problem). And there’s plenty of evidence that the Chinese are going to kill us with their lead disposal program. Then there’s the issue of the Chinese killing our souls, with their tons of cheap, tasteless, plastic crap products…

  16. davina says:

    Sorry to those who think it is xenophobic, but I am glad. With the environmental questions surrounding Chinese water and soil and with questionable oversight by their government, I refuse to buy any food grown in China (at least knowingly!)

    Trader Joe’s sells “organic” spinach from China. How on Earth can anything from China be organic when their water is so polluted? Besides, I don’t trust China enough not to believe that when the inspectors are not looking that they are spraying pesticides on their vegetables.

    I personally called Trader Joes to complain so I am glad they listened. This is not xenophobia.

  17. sburnap42 says:

    Just a month ago we started looking for the country of origin on cans. We stopped buying beans labeled “made in china” at Trader Joes and started buying beans labeled “made in USA” at Whole Foods. I guess we weren’t the only ones.

    In our case, the “poison train” wasn’t the main motivator so much as disgust at the amount of resources used to ship food half-way around the planet when the same stuff is grown forty miles away.

  18. artki says:

    Oi, Consumerist! Seems inconsistent to run dozens of “Chinese Poison Train” tagged articles and then when a company makes a response to the Train you tag that article with “Xenophobia”.

    Also, instead of “Xenophobia” how about “responding to customer demands”?

  19. Major-General says:

    @C2D: Trader Joe’s will emphatically insist they are not a health food store.

  20. bohemian says:

    I don’t see how this is xenophobia when there is a pretty clear relation between tainted products and their origin or production in China.
    I quit buying Salmon that was produced in Chile because there is no regulation on things like pesticides and malachite green in their fisheries. It has nothing to do with a dislike or distrust of Chile as a country, government or people.

    Frankly I have a level of distrust of just about everything I buy that I do not have a direct knowledge about how it was produced.

  21. umonster says:

    @artki: I was just going to write the same thing. I totally agree that Consumerist is being a little disengenuous here.

  22. XopherMV says:

    People are perfectly happy with goods from foreign countries with track records of providing quality products. As such, they are NOT xenophobic when they refuse to buy products from a country that has constantly been in the news for dangerous and poisonous products. Those customers are practicing common sense.

    This call of xenophobia is inaccurate, sensationalist, and race-baiting.

  23. This is xenophobia. We have extensively covered the quality control issues facing China’s regulatory system; however, no reasonable person would categorically condemn imports worth almost $1 trillion as poison.

    “Chinese Poison Train” is a phrase we coined in jest, a handy catch-all for the damage caused by the unbridled profit motive’s introduction to rapidly industrializing markets. Just because a company claims to be responding to the Chinese Poison Train does not automatically make their response reasonable.

    We have always advocated for a reasonable response: policy makers need to erode the profit motive that drives corrupt manufacturers in any nation. Whether that involves increased inspections, a revamped domestic regulatory system, or trust in the free market is a conversation being played out in Washington, one that we continue to cover.

    Trader Joe’s has chosen to placate their xenophobic customers. They have no problem with Chinese-made products – and as we wrote, their decision will keep a slew of Chinese goods on the shelf. It’s great that Trader Joe’s is responsive, but that doesn’t make their response right. Shutting off foreign trade and crawling into a protectionist cave accomplishes nothing.

  24. BoorRichard says:

    Carey, wtf? Eliminating Chinese goods is not the same thing as “shutting off foreign trade.” You are not making sense on that soapbox.

  25. iamme99 says:

    I don’t generally read labels for country of manufacture. But I am concerned that China seems to play fast and loose with ingredients and oversight there for many products seems to be lax. However, I do like their punishment response for the head of Food Safety who got convicted of taking bribes to certify products without testing – execution. We should consider similar punishment here for a variety of the big crooks in big business! That might send a lesson to get on the straight and narrow.

    btw: Has anyone else noticed that many TJ products have had significant price increases over the last 6 months? For example, roasted sunflower seeds increased form $1.29 to $1.49/lb recently. That’s about 15%.

  26. Darren666 says:

    @Carey: No its not. Did you not read the dictionary link I gave you?


    Again, for this to be xenophobia, TJ and its customers would have to ban all non-domestic goods, which they are NOT doing. Therefore it is *NOT* xenophobia.

    Get a grip, Carey.

  27. UpsetPanda says:

    Okay, so for the United States to have so many Chinese people, so many ethnic stores, full of produce and materials from China, how come everyone is so willing to blame the ‘poison train’. Everywhere on this forum I see ‘the Chinese did this’ or ‘those chinese’. Well excuse me, i’m Chinese and I’ve never put lead in toys or put chemicals in toothpaste.

    The trend I’m starting to see is this anti-Chinese sentiment when it is not the Chinese who are the problem, it is bad business practiced by individuals who happen to be Chinese. It is disturbing to me to hear all of these thoughts.

    It’s starting to get aggravating, this assumption that the Chinese are responsible somehow as a whole people group, for the recent problems, and though I am American, I feel that a reflection on “Chinese” in general who have brought about these problems is a reflection and a statement about what certain people here feel about Chinese people as a whole, that we’re a bunch of baby poisoners.

    Yeah, China has problems. Yeah, there is a culture of cheap goods made cheaply, and it’s a problem. But I am actually kind of offended at Trader Joe’s decision – there is no PROOF that ALL single-ingredient goods shipped from China are contaminate in some way. To pull them off the shelf is to make assumptions about the Chinese companies involved.

  28. Darren666 says:

    @CoffeeCup: Nobody is blaming all Chinese for the problem. Who said this?

    American consumers simply understand that there is a problem with many of the imports into their country from China. I’m sorry if you misconstrue this as to somehow blaming you and every single other Chinese person, but no such statement was made or implied.

  29. tadowguy says:

    Me Chinese, Me Pray Joke. Me Put Poison in Capitalist Pig’s Coke!

  30. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    HOW old are you?

  31. Snarkysnake says:

    All this argle-bargle about a few “chemicals” and “lead” in the food we get from our “strategic partners”,the (Red as a baboon’s ass) Chinese…Talk about fighting the last war ! While you are looking under your beds for bad juju in your chop suey, the bigger problem is the millions of crappy,low quality automobile tires that are on the road right now that come from the people’s republic…Thats right boys and girls,these things will seperate at 70 miles and hour on the interstate and (if you survive the resulting crash),you’re gonna get a object lesson in just how much you are worth to a big American company that “outsourced” the manufacture of their product to save a few NICKELS (the margin on tires is really that low)…I don’t cars what “brand” is on the side, find out where that tire is made and if it is anyplace that you can’t criticize the government,don’t buy the damn things…

  32. XopherMV says:


    Way to prove my point that this article is inaccurate, sensationalist race-baiting.

    To be xenophobic, Trader Joe’s would have to ban ALL foreign goods, not just goods from one country. They did NOT do that and as such, are NOT xenophobic.

    If you insist on sensationalist race-baiting, then at least use an accurate term to insult your opponents.

  33. bradanomics says:

    My wife works at TJs and she said “we have customers who refuse to buy things because it ‘might’ come from china”

  34. iaintgoingthere says:

    Now that’s fantastic. New reason for TJ’s to increase their price. NO MO CHEAP CHINES LABOR!!!

  35. Trai_Dep says:

    Imagine a butcher, Sweeny Todd, who has a thriving business. It comes out that a small portion of his offerings are human flesh.

    Word gets out, resulting in no one wanting to buy any meat from Sweeny.

    Sucks to be Sweeny. Perhaps he shouldn’t have let his standards slip in other areas; then people would have been happy to buy his chicken and beef.

    Same situation with China. Regrettable, and probably most of their stuff isn’t poisoned. Too bad. Enough was that any reasonable person would rather buy elsewhere. No sympathies whatsoever.

    It’s AWESOME that TJs listens. I’ll buy more there because of it.

  36. EtherealStrife says:

    This is a bit ridiculous. If people don’t want something, they don’t have to buy it. A better response would be to clearly label the country of origin on all products TJ sells. That way when the xenophobe target of the day changes TJ doesn’t have to lift a finger.

    @Darren666 @XopherMV: Xenophobia is the fear of anything foreign, not everything foreign.

  37. descend says:

    [i]This is a bit ridiculous. If people don’t want something, they don’t have to buy it. A better response would be to clearly label the country of origin on all products TJ sells. That way when the xenophobe target of the day changes TJ doesn’t have to lift a finger.[/i]

    That’s not a very adequate response. Yes, I “don’t have to buy it”, but I [i]will[/i] have to go elsewhere to get those products, and might decide to save myself the extra trip and only shop at the other store. That’s what TJ fears.

  38. etherdog says:

    Country of origin labeling has been the LAW in the US for 5 years. However, the Bush administration has refused to implement it. I do not buy anything without checking country of origin, and will not buy anything if it has Chinese content. This is not xenophobia on my part–I’ve lived on three different continents–rather, it is my disgust at many Chinese practices, from repression in Tibet and other places, slave labor, high pollution, worker exploitation, lack of regard for the environment, censorship, etc., ad infinitum. Good for Trader Joe’s!

  39. Darren666 says:

    @EtherealStrife: No, in this context, anything and everything are interchangeable. You could hardly say you fear foreign things if you only feared things from one country.

    A more correct term would be something like “Chinophobia”.

  40. EtherealStrife says:

    @descend: You’ve nailed it on the head. Adequate response. What is an adequate response? Do we want to adequately appease the xenophobic masses, or do we want to adequately protect them? The two are not the same. TJ knows these people are nutjobs, but they also know they have to do something or risk losing those from the dregs of the gene pool. To truly do something other than grocery theater TJ would have to implement actual quality control, on a product by product basis. They already do this to an extent, but the xenophobes can’t be concerned with silly “facts”. Hence the theatrics.

  41. EtherealStrife says:

    @Darren666: “You could hardly say you fear foreign things if you only feared things from one country.”
    That’s exactly what you could say. Look it up.

  42. Darren666 says:

    @EtherealStrife: I did look it up and your interpretation is not what it means.

    If you do not fear all things foreign you are not a xenophobe. If you only specific outside groups, you are not xenophobic, you are only phobic.

  43. Darren666 says:

    The comment system ate part of my comment because it looked like HTML. I’ll try again:

    If you do not fear all things foreign you are not a xenophobe. If you only specific outside groups, you are not xenophobic, you are only name-of-outside-group phobic.

  44. Darren666 says:

    Unfortunately, people routinely engage in corruption of langauge because of poor understanding of the mechanics.

    Again, one cannot apply a term that specifies a fear of all things to only mean you fear one group.

    Xeno – foreign or strange
    phobia – fear

    xenophobia – fear of things foreign or strange

    if Bob fears things from china but not from, say britan, argentina, or anywhere else, the statement that Bob is xenophobic is incorrect because Bob’s lack of fear of of some things foreign would contradict the term.

    I do not agree with the blanket ban on Chinese goods and I think it represents a misinformed and reactionary opinion, however, the term xenophobia cannot possibly apply here unless Trader Joe’s is getting rid of all foreign products.

  45. EtherealStrife says:

    @Darren666: By that definition xenophobia could not possibly exist. The air we breath is not contained within the confines of our nation, nor is our water supply. Any xenophobes (by your interpretation) would be dead.

  46. 3drage says:

    Calling this Xenophobic is pretty biased. Shouldn’t Trader Joe’s be hailed for leading the consumer industry towards a higher standard? Complain about the Chinese poison train and then complain about Trader Joes. Ugh.

  47. HooFoot says:

    Oh please. Every time there is a “Chinese Poison Train” recall, there are at least a dozen comments complaining about shoddy Chinese manufacturing and agriculture policies. How many commenters vowed not to buy Mattel products this holiday season? A store FINALLY decides to listen to consumers and ban Chinese imports and suddenly they are labeled xenophobic. Make up your damn minds.

  48. Dr.Ph0bius says:

    Im sorry if this seems slightly off topic, but I can never get over how funny it is that we so openly trade with Communist China, but wont trade with Cuba because they are Communists.

    But hey, as long as the majority of our national debt is owed to China, you better just eat those lead filled foods and smile like you like it!


  49. Crazytree says:

    the Chinese have a huge international inferiority complex that gets played out on many, many levels. why is it that China is trying to land on the moon and more developed and reasonable countries like Japan and S. Korea could care less?

    therefore any criticism of China will short out some people’s logic centers, those who believe that China is paradise on Earth and its people are infalliable.

  50. XTC46 says:

    @buckus: an item with a single ingredient. I.e. corn on the cob is just corn on the cob, but a canned version of it is corn, salt (usually, some preservative, etc. So if it is one ingredient and it is from china then its banned, but if it has multiple ingredients, and some are from china and other places its ok. which is why this is stupid.

  51. jeff3545 says:

    While I am concerned about products originating in China, I recognize this to be a knee-jerk reaction to recent events. Having said that, I’m more concerned about spinach from California than I am about Chinese spinach given the track record on the former is demonstrably poorer than the latter.

  52. davina says:

    Has anybody read this article from the NY Times about pollution:
    [] (just click on the link)

    I agree with Jeff3545 that spinach from California has a questionable record as well; however, there is almost no regulation in China, the air and water are far more toxic and there is almost no way to track sources of contamination.

    THIS IS NOT XENOPHOBIA–look at the following:

    1. Pet food recall due to malamine
    2. toothpaste recall (with all those deaths in Panama)
    3. Veggie booty recall (tainted seasoning from China)
    4. Monkfish imported from China actually poisonous puffer fish
    5. farmed seafood tainted with drugs from China (I think it was catfish and bass?)

    This is just off the top of my head. China is a great country with great people. However, the level of safety in manufacturing is out of control. Corruption there is rife and, I am sorry, I think it is smart to avoid all products from China until they improve their safety records and clean up their water, air and their act.

  53. ultimaluz says:

    I work customer-service for a mid-sized home decor company. Our customers call from all over the world. Our products are made in Thailand and China, which I cheerfully tell our customers when they ask.

    I have been screamed at, preached at, called names and hung up on for being part of a company which imports from China in particular or overseas at all, and I respect anyone’s decision to refrain from buying any product for any reason. No retailer should have to stock anything, and no consumer should have to buy anything. This is basic!

    But just as basic is the fact that no American consumer can possibly “avoid all products from China”. You cannot wake up in the morning and move through your bedroom, your bathroom, your kitchen – or, I daresay, your yurt – without encountering a product that is in whole or in part Chinese in origin.

    Try it! Count up the products you rely on that you could never afford if they were made domestically. (You’re welcome to use an abacus.)

  54. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @ultimaluz: Does the abacus count as one of the products?
    Seriously, I agree with what you say about not being able to avoid imports. But this situation is aggravated by consumers being cheap (most times out of necessity as they aren’t being paid sh*t) and companies being greeeeedy (we can make those widgets cheaper in Mexico/China/India/etc.).
    So it’s impossible to make this challenge (avoid imports) as we do not have the choice to begin with.
    You cannot find a ‘domestic’ TV, stereo, automobile etc.etc. to make the comparison!!
    Let me get in a shameless jibe at wallyworld as well :)

  55. @suburbancowboy: I was reading yesterday (Time Magazine, I think) that Chinese labor costs are 4% US labor costs; that is, if you had to pay a US farm laborer $1 to pick a bushel of apples, you’d pay a Chinese farm laborer 4 cents for the same bushel.

    Also container ship shipping is dead cheap (though slowish).

    @TWinter: I understand (some of) the economics, but my brain refuses to deal with the fact that we both export and import, say, chicken. Dur?

    I don’t buy anything that’s not labeled with country-of-origin, although at the supermarket my main concern is South American in-skin fruits, since most South American countries allow waaaaaaaaaay more and scarier pesticides than the U.S. The sooner Bush gets around to implementing those rules, the more stuff I’ll be willing to buy!

  56. forever_knight says:

    how many times do we have to say it, consumerist? this is not xenophobia!

  57. artki says:

    The right term would be Sinophobia, not Xenophobia.

  58. Razzler says:

    Carey, it’s really disingenuous to lump people who refuse to buy Chinese goods into one group. Sure, some have xenophobic or racist motivations for doing so; others simply watch the news and are making informed decisions about the products they buy. The world isn’t black and white.

    however, no reasonable person would categorically condemn imports worth almost $1 trillion as poison.

    Surely you realize that this is a strawman argument; nobody’s saying that all Chinese products are dangerous. In fact, TJ’s statement said the exact opposite. However, a small number of a very wide variety of products have been shown to be extremely dangerous. You can call me a racist for being leery about purchasing Chinese-made toothpaste, but I can just as easily call you uninformed.

    I get that there’s a lot of liberal guilt associated with the Chinese Poison Train. But these facts aren’t arguable, and it’s idiotic to go LALALA XENOPHOBIA I CAN’T HEAR YOU when the blog you write for stands as a testament to the very problem you’re denying exists.

  59. viviennet says:

    @Darren666: Don’t you mean Sinophobia?

    For a man who seems so intent on the ‘correct’ usage of terms, you’re rather misinformed.

  60. iamme99 says:

    @Doctor_Cos – good points about cost and consumers looking for cheaper goods.

    However, I think that this equation is going to change. With the continuing declines in value of the dollar relative to other currencies, imported items are going to become significantly more expensive going forward.

    If Ben Bernanke (head of the Federal Reserve continues to lower interest rates in an attempt to starve off a recession while the rest of the world holds steady or increases their interest rates, then the dollar will continue to drop in value. Some pundits are saying the dollar will be worth 50% less in the next 2 years.

    If the dollar does continue its decline, then many imported items will be much more expensive (think foods, toys, cars, etc.). More expensive goods will also lead to more inflation. Bernanke is between the rock and the hard place and the USA economy is in for a rough ride going forward.

  61. jstonemo says:

    Let us not forget that the Chinese are sucking up all of the oil we should be getting thanks to Clinton opening up China to free trade with us. Their economic growth rate is 12% compared to our paltry 3%. They are growing very fast and using more oil as a result. Maybe they are tainting the goods they produce for us on purpose to poison us so they can have even more oil.

    People who think we go to war for oil haven’t seen anything yet once China gets their 1 Billion man army on the march to “take” oil for themselves.

    This is my xenophobic comment for the day.

  62. csdiego says:

    I’m late reading this and haven’t been through all the comments. Just here to say that as a Trader Joe’s shopper I have no trouble at all with this, for two reasons:

    1) If you believe that the same country that exported toothpaste with antifreeze in it can handle quality control for organic produce, then let me tell you about this bridge…

    2) To quote Michael Moore (not something I do very often, but hey) on the trade deficit, the first rule of holes is, stop digging. Trade hasn’t been good to us: the structural unemployment and economic collapse of entire US states more than outweighs the benefits of $5 tshirts. And don’t give me the Tom Friedman line that all we need is to invest in retraining: if you believe that, I’ve got this bridge… I realize that certain treaties are bending us over, and so is the fact that China owns so much of our debt, but surely we can unbend enough to stop substandard food and other products from coming into the country.

  63. shoegazer says:

    1. Damn there are quite a few wacko racists on Consumerist. If I were Chinese I’d be so offended right now with some of the comments here.

    2. Damn there are a lot of jumped up language police on Consumerist. If I were a language student I’d be amused at the literalists insisting that one has to hate ALL foreign things to be a xenophobe. See: a British law against “expressions of racism or xenophobia”. So I guess it’s only racism if I hate ALL races, too, eh?

    3. TJ’s is responding to legitimate concerns by banning a subset of products which have NOT been shown to cause harm, as a preventative measure against losing business.

    Irrational? sure.
    Immoral? nope, they can do what they like.

    Xenophobic? Well, yes. The xenophobic customers have spoken and the squeaky wheels get the grease. The free market at its finest. But don’t blame TJs, Consumerist. Take a good hard look at all your own “Poison Train” posts.

    It’s worse than disingenuous (that’s how it’s spelled, by the way) – it’s the height of hypocrisy.

  64. DrGirlfriend says:

    I’m not convinced that banning items from a particular country, when safety concerns about said products are widely discussed, qualifies as xenophobia. I’m not comofrtable with such words are bandied about solely because one of the partipants in an issue happens to be from a different country. There’s a lot more at play here than just “we hate fur’ners”.

  65. Trackback says:

    Photo from candy store Papabubble’s opening night party via Flickr/DBTH Local · Candy, costumes and decorations for Halloween [NY Mag] · Dozens of people going to court against Salander-O’Reilly Galleries [NY Times] · A store that gives at-risk youth business training [NY Mag]…

  66. Maeg says:

    So when we, as consumers, vote with our wallets – as the Consumerist tells us to do as the core of the whole site’s message – this is a good thing.

    But when a place like Trader Joe’s responds to that consumer voice by refusing to stock certain items… that’s xenophobia?

    Give me a fuckin’ break. I am seriously losing faith in what comes out of this website, because it is becoming more and more obvious that the Consumerist is more interested in grabbing headlines and, in effect, hits on the page, instead of supporting and advocating consumer choice.

  67. bdgbill says:

    What the hell??

    After umpteen articles on “The Chinese Poison Train” you accuse Trader Joes of xenophobia for not taking any chances?

    I personaly do not want to ingest ANYTHING made in China and will try to shop at Trader Joes whenever I can.

  68. Is it xenophobic to not want to purchase products imported from a country with a repressive political regime that jails dissenters?

  69. fejjnagaf says:

    “The fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners.”
    Yeah, not so much.
    It’s called rational discretion.
    Chinese products, especially of late, have proven to be problematic, making people sick. I don’t know why any food producer or distributer would continue to risk their customer loyalty by continuing to work with chinese manufacturers.
    When someone buys chinese flip flops at Walmart that leave chemical burns on their feet, people get mad at walmart.
    When someone buys cat food from petco that kills their cat, people remember that Petco killed their cat.
    This isn’t xenophobia at all. There is a huge difference between protecting your customers and being afraid of foreign nationals.
    The fact is that more than any other nation, chinese exports have resulted in more illnesses, deaths, and lead poisoning that exports from any other nation.
    So why NOT stop buying their products?
    A healthy, living Trader Joes customer is always more valuable than a dead or sick one.

  70. fejjnagaf says:

    And why is it that everytime anyone reacts to something involving a foreign nation, people are quick to label it xenophobia?
    I don’t like the way illegal immigrants are putting a strain on our economy. I like mexicans. I work with Mexican americans. But I don’t like people who come here illegally. That isn’t xenophobia, it’s reality.
    If 90% of the recalls in the last 2 years come from China, why keep importing their defective crap?

  71. forever_knight says:

    @fejjnagaf: spoken like a true xenophobe. kidding!

  72. SohoStiletto says:

    In the spirit of xenophobia, what do all of these white supremacists (see photo above) want with Chinese food anyway?? ;-)

  73. boxjockey68 says:

    I wish more US companies would stop buying MADE IN CHINA, Seriously, why DO we keep buying their defective crap??

  74. Chicago7 says:

    I read the article as saying they couldn’t be sure that the items from China were “organic”, not that they were poisoned or defective.

  75. While this isn’t xenophobia this isn’t good for consumers either. They are only banning single-ingredient products from China. Pet food is not a single-ingredient item. Toothpaste is not a single-ingredient item.

    They’re only doing enough to make people feel better without actually making their customers safer.

    What I find sad is that it has even worked on Consumerist commentors, people I would have thought would know better anyway, even though it says right at the bottom of the article (emphasis mine):

    The Chinese Poison Train rarely fells single-ingredient products, preferring to instead grace constituent ingredients like wheat gluten. Though the announcement – the first of its kind among major retailers – will not make consumers any safer, it is the most pernicious indication yet of consumers skepticism towards foreign goods.

  76. slapBOXmaster says:

    I would hope that this kind of thing happens more and in more markets. I have nothing against importing products but when importing comes at the cost of our own economy I start to take notice. If it cost a dollar more to buy US produce isn’t it worth it knowing you are helping your fellow countrymen live. We are in the shitter economically not only because of war but because almost nothing of global value is being produced here. We have become a consumer country in the global economy buying everything from outside when we can be making it ourselves all so the CFO and CEO of every company claiming to be a Proud American Company can make some more cash. We need some kind of policy whereby companies can only claim to be american if 50% or more of what they produce is produced in the USA. No more bullshit about American built if you build it in mexico and assemble it in texas. Canada is starting to kick our asses economically. CANADA.

    They make tons more then we do and they don’t seem to be suffering for it. The fact that our ( USA ) money is now on the same level as their money should be speaking volumes to what making your own goods wherever possible means. Import only that which you cannot make yourself. Sure we will all pay more but when your health and your country’s economy are on the line I say stop saying you are proud to BE american and be proud to BUY american.

  77. fejjnagaf says:

    “we have always advocated a reasonable response”
    Does that include or not include the way the hammer-wielding grandma was glorified and turned into a hero?
    For a writer, you seem to have no grasp on the definition of words and the ability to decieve your own readers.
    You’d be great at the New York Times….
    Allow me to help you out, since you don’t seem actually interested in the importance of the definitions of the very words you string together:
    xenophobia – fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign

    Please explain to us morons how a decision by Trader Joe’s to stop purchasing and reselling chinese individual goods is illustrative of fear and hatred of anything….
    Nice try.
    Integrity -1

  78. Voyou_Charmant says:

    “Caving to xenophobia” Really? Not “Caving to reason and conscientious reasoning for the betterment of everyone” ?

    Granting China permanent normal trade relations has proven to be disastrous on just about every level except our personal wallets.

    It would be xenophobia if they wouldnt allow foreigners to shop at Trader Joe’s because they are affraid of them for being from somewhere else.

    Someone should ask the PC police to stand down.

  79. Voyou_Charmant says:

    @ Myself

    That should have said: “Caving to conscientious reasoning for the betterment of everyone”

  80. Mariallena says:

    You keep posting that definition of Xenophobia like it is a valid argument on deciding whether Trader Joe’s is right in taking some Chinese products off their shelves.

    First of all, it is absolutely irrelevant to the argument.

    Second, the definition you keep posting says “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners”. Since the Chinese are foreigners in any country except China, it is xenophobia in any country except China.

    Are you posting from China? Well, I am not so it is xenophobia.

  81. limes says:

    banning single ingredient foods from china won’t protect those xenophobes against anything except their paranoia, since they’ll still be purchasing processed foods of all kinds from china. if the want a superficial way to deal with the problem, which is reliance on cheap imported food of questionable quality/safety, then trader joe’s has done a ‘good’ job.

    personally i try to buy local foods as much as possible, so shopping at the farmer’s market is more appropriate. it’s nice to support local farmers, to meet the people that actually produce the food, and it’s good for the environment (think of all the resources saved from transportation). plus, it encourages you to eat seasonally (it’s healthy and encourages culinary experimentation). the food is often fresher and free of packaging (better for tastebuds, less waste).

    it’s offensive to talk about china as if it’s somehow doing the US injustice by having a faster growing economy. it’s not as if US has the right to be the sole superpower of the world, or any nation, for that matter. when people express their concerns by blaming china, i can’t help but think they are insecure, envious, and hypocritical.