Trader Joe's phase out some food imported from China

  • Other chains were "in a different situation"

Trader Joe's is taking some of its Chinese food off the menu. The grocery store chain, which has about 300 stores around the country known for its selection of budget gourmet and ethnic offerings, said Monday that by April 1 it would phase out the sale of single-ingredient items -- such as garlic and spinach -- that are imported from China.

"Our customers have voiced their concerns about products from this region and we have listened," the company said in a statement. It will replace the goods with "products from other regions until our customers feel as confident as we do about the quality and safety of Chinese products," the statement said.

The company will continue to stock products that include Chinese ingredients. Shoppers haven't complained about those, a spokeswoman said.

Other chains won't be following Trader Joe's lead. Whole Foods Market said in a statement that it was "in a different situation" when it came to products from China.

"We don't carry them in our fresh meat, seafood or produce departments and we offer a very, very small amount in our grocery department," the Austin, Texas-based seller of natural and organic groceries said.

Whole Foods added that it didn't make sense "to stop the progress we have made with sourcing select high-quality products for our private-label brands that come from China and other global partners."

Likewise, El Segundo-based Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, the Trader Joe's competitor owned by British grocer Tesco, said it would continue to sell food imported from China.

China is the sixth-leading supplier of agricultural products to the U.S. Including seafood, it is the third-largest supplier of imported food, according to Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington.

(Log Angeles Times)

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