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Anyone have mixed luck at Trader Joe's?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
I love that place. Their prices are great, especially for here in Northern California. I can count on the fact that their products aren't FULL of chemicals. But. BUT. I am so tired of buying things that go moldy or rancid before their expiration date!

I was making turkey chili today and got everything all ready and chopped up. As I was adding the turkey meat, I could smell that it was sour and I have a stuffy nose! Imagine if my nose had been stuffier (like yesterday when I couldn't smell anything) and I hadn't been able to smell that it was bad. My whole family would have gotten sick!

It's not just this TJs either. The ones I went to when we lived in NY had constant issues too. Moldy hummus, cheese going bad a month before it expires (still wrapped), sour OJ, bad milk, moldy tortillas, and many many trays of chicken and turkey.

I know you can bring back anything no questions. But I shouldn't have to! It's hard enough to shlep my kids there to begin with and find a parking spot.


Anybody with me? :

And what can I throw together for dinner now?
post #2 of 44
I've never had problems with meat. But three or four times the bagged sandwich bread molded within a couple of days, and that was in the winter when the kitchen wasn't particularly warm. The bread probably doesn't have preservatives, but I bought them all within the sell-by dates. Same with a package of blueberry bran muffins. They molded over night.

I still shop there regularly. It's close by. The organic strawberries are consistantly superior to the ones at the high end, award winning grocery store chain. I love the funky stuff I can get. Dh loves the black licorice from Australia. The madelines, yum! Druid Circle oatmeal cookies, yum! (Gotta love that name.) And of course the kids head for the samples the moment we walk in the door.
post #3 of 44
I love TJs. One time, however, I bought a ton of pita pockets to make these pita chips I like for a party we were having. The day of the party I pulled them out and they were ALL completely moldy. I was pissed at the inconvenience. But when I returned them they reminded me that most of their items, especially their bakery items, do not contain preservatives. That's the issue, really. On the flip side, I have string cheese (a major brand name, like Frigo or something) in my fridge right now. Due date is sometime in April or whatever. I unwrapped a stick for DS#2 today and a huge part of the stick was moldy. The others in the package were fine. Totally weird. Another random thing that's happened to me is that at this one very popular local store I have on about 6 different occasions gotten past due dairy products. Big inconvenience. I'm sure they're not checking their shelves and perhaps TJs needs to do this more.
post #4 of 44
I think the moldy, etc food problem results from their food being made in other places and shipped long distances to their stores. Since it does not have as many preservatives, it goes bad quickly.

Personally, I am not to thrilled with TJs. I prefer our local coop food store. Shop locally, support local farmers.
post #5 of 44
I've had that happen many times at TJ's.
post #6 of 44
as for dinner tonite, vegie chili
post #7 of 44
I never had that issue here with TJ's, but I also don't buy meat or dairy. Theres this other place here to called wild by nature, and they constantly have expired things on the shelf, i have to be so careful shopping there.
post #8 of 44
All the time. They drive me crazy - and I drive me crazy, continuing to shop there despite the issues. I swear, I've returned more things to TJs than to all other groceries combined in my entire life.

Their organic hummus is fabulous - since tasting it, it is now the only hummus my kids will eat. But it ferments (and swells the package and in a few instances has exploded the package) well before it's expiration date. Sometimes the packages are already swelling on the shelf! I've returned several cartons of this hummus already for this problem, and have thrown away several more because I wasn't getting to TJs anytime soon. I continue to buy it, but try to get the girls to eat it very quickly.

Cheese - I've had their cheeses go moldy within two days of getting home.

Produce - I've bought raspberries, taken them straight to the park to eat with a picnic lunch, and found them moldy all through the center. Moldy artichoke hearts. Greens that have wilted in no time flat. Avocados that are so bruised they're unusable. Yep, I've returned most of these things, though a few were waste because I didn't plan on getting back there soon and wasn't keeping moldy fruit in my fridge for two weeks.

Jar of jelly - went to open it and found the seal was already popped; the jelly was moldy on top. How freakin' long does jelly have to be open to go moldy? I have kept jelly on my countertop for days with no problems! Candied ginger - bought a bag, and they tasted naaasty, don't know what was wrong with them. Gluten-free cookies - found bag to be unsealed.

Meat - several times I've had their meats smell funky well before expiration dates. The worst is hot dogs, because I'll open the pack, use a few and put the rest in the fridge for a later meal. I come back for them and they smell funky, but it's days or weeks before the expiration date. They sell the same brand of organic, nitrate-free dogs as my local hfs but for about $1 cheaper per pack. Now, I usually opt to buy locally, but at that discount... I've given in to temptation a few times when I'm there. But no longer - it's no discount if I have to throw away half the package!

The only thing that keeps me going back is their no-questions-asked return policy. In fact, they're so cool about returns that they don't even ask for a reason for record. I've had to push them a couple of times to let me complain about whatever was wrong with the item :
post #9 of 44
I've had issues with buying packaged veggies. They look great thru the saran wrap but underneath they are rotted :. I no longer buy certain veggies there b/c of this but everything else for us has been great. I can do one shop there for all of our food (not toiletries) & I stay within our budget.
post #10 of 44
Thread Starter 
I think the fact that their bread goes moldy so fast must mean that it is pretty darn old by the time it reaches the store because I can bake my own bread at home, totally preservative free and it will last a week past Trader Joe's bread.
post #11 of 44
We don't buy meat or dairy, but we buy all our bread, tofu, jelly (except during the summer whe we get it at a farmers market), almond butter, pasta, sauce (when we don't make our own), frozen veggies, coffee, pet food, vitamins, etc (we do quite a bit of our shopping there) and we haven't had a problem with any of the food.
The only thing we've ever had a problem with was one time I bought some acidophilus and it had expired the month before. I took it back and told them and they went to took the rest of the shelf.
post #12 of 44
I haven't had that happen with meat from TJ's, but bread products, yeah. One thing I've noticed: the GF bread we usually buy (Food For Life brand) is sold refrigerated or even still frozen at Whole Foods, but at TJ's, it's at room temp. We keep it in the fridge at home, and it lasts for weeks... but I'm sure if we left it on the counter it would mold pretty fast.

It is something of a risk when you buy stuff that doesn't have preservatives, hasn't been uber-pasteurized, etc. The only brand I've had big issues with (and I've never seen it at TJ's) is Cedarlane. I've bought two things of tabouli and one of foccacia of theirs that had mold when I opened them... right after purchase, days before the sell-by. :-/ This was at three different stores, over several months (I avoided them for a while after the second incident, then gave them another shot). So I don't buy their stuff anymore.
post #13 of 44
Yes, I have had this problem with TJ many times. I know now not to buy their produce that is wrapped in saran wrap. Every single time I would buy squash or peppers or whatever--it looked fine in the wrapper, and then I would get it home and the underside would be moldy.

I would much rather go to my regular market (Safeway is the closest to us) and look at the produce and pick out my own. I won't buy it wrapped anymore. I have also bought moldy cheese, and stale/rotten baked goods.

I really think that TJ's is a very "stylized" grocery store. They are going for a "look" of a health food store, which appeals to people today who are "going green". I think it is part of whole marketing plan that they have (and it is obviously making them a tremendous profit)--but the reality behind the cool labels often falls short. I use to live across the street from "Real Foods" grocery store in San Francisco, and they had much better quality food. Obviously I am not a huge fan of Trader Joes, but I know many people love it.
post #14 of 44
Originally Posted by tboroson View Post
The worst is hot dogs, because I'll open the pack, use a few and put the rest in the fridge for a later meal. I come back for them and they smell funky, but it's days or weeks before the expiration date.
Ok... this happens for us all the time, but I grew up learning that the sell-by date was how long it would stay fresh *unopened*, and that once you opened it, it should be consumed within a relatively short time. For hot dogs, I wouldn't want to eat them more than a week after I'd opened them regardless, for example.
post #15 of 44
This has been happening to me more and more lately at TJ's! I have decided to stop doing most of my shopping there, because I'm tired of throwing away food that expired too early. I also notice that it seems like they have A LOT of food recalls.
post #16 of 44
Our local TJ's just opened a year ago. I don't make it there very often, but I have had two issues with spoiled meat. One time was ground turkey that I opened and it smelled rancid and it was still a week before the sell by and another time it was a whole chicken that had gone bad way before the sell by. I don't buy meat there anymore, but I haven't had any problems with any of their other items.
post #17 of 44
I wonder if there are regional issues.... what states are you ladies who have these meat problems hailing from?
post #18 of 44
The only problem I've had is that the baguettes have to be used right away (or frozen). And I buy a fair amount of dairy. The organic milk seems to last as long as any other organic milk I've purchased.

I buy little produce there, however, because the prices aren't as good as the local grocery store.

The frozen foods (which don't really go bad) are out of this world.

Since we don't eat meat, I can't really speak to the quality there.
post #19 of 44
I don't shop there very regularly, but I've never had any problems.
post #20 of 44
Originally Posted by DaughterOfKali View Post
I've had that happen many times at TJ's.
Same here.
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