Trader Joes, China, and Black Beans

January 2nd, 2008 — 7:26pm

We usually buy our cans of organic black beans from Trader Joes. I noticed while opening a can the other day, that on the top it was stamped, “Product of China”.


With all the alternative sources of black beans available, Trader Joes imports them from a country that has routinely sold tainted food products?

So I sent them and email and told them I was concerned. Here was their reponse:

“Thank you for taking the time to contact Trader Joe’s with your concerns regarding China. At Trader Joe’s, we have been dealing with standards
and practices in many different countries for over 49 years, and our buyers are diligent about making sure our suppliers and the products
they provide are not below standards set in the United States.

Certainly some companies in China, and other parts of the world, are far behind the times when it comes to organics, etc; however we do not do
business with those companies. We also have high expectations from our vendors. If we do not feel safe eating it ourselves, there is no way we would be willing to put our name on it. We have stringent Quality Assurance measures in place to ensure that not only the USDA/FDA requirements are being met but ours as well.

We require FDA regulated GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and HACCP Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) program of our vendors.
HACCP is a systematic approach to identifying, evaluating and controlling food safety hazards. In addition, our Quality Assurance Team
audits our vendors to monitor their facilities and practices to ensure cleanliness and safety.

While we are confident in both the safety and quality of our Chinese made products, our customers have let us know they are not. Trader
Joe’s has, therefore, begun the process of finding alternative sources for the products we currently source from China. The process should be
complete in early 2008.”

In other words, even though they still believe their products are safe, they will find alternative sources anyway because of customer concerns. Why? Because they would lose customers and market share if they didn’t.

As someone who earns her bread by practicing the craft of pr, I applaud them for getting back to me in a prompt manner with a form letter that doesn’t read like one. It’s a good lesson in how pr can help avert a potential crisis, instead of inflaming one.

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