Petition Asks Trader Joe’s to Remove ‘Racist Packaging’ from Ethnic Foods

Trader Joe’s, at 44 E. Ontario. Sun-Times file photo

A petition is asking Trader Joe’s to remove “racist packaging” from its ethnic food products following moves by other brands from Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Eskimo Pie to the Washington NFL franchise.

The Change.org petition was started two weeks ago and had more than 925 signatures as of Saturday afternoon. It says the grocer “labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of ‘Joe’ that belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes,” noting how Trader Ming’s is used to brand the chain’s Chinese foods and Trader José’s for Mexican foods.

But the chain, considered one of America’s favorite grocery stores, says it already has begun work to phase out the names and while its approach to product naming “may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness, we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect.”

“With this in mind, we made the decision several years ago to use only the Trader Joe’s name on our products moving forward,” Kenya Friend-Daniel, Trader Joe’s national director of public relations, told the SFGate.com. ”Since then, we have been in the process of updating older labels and replacing any variations with the name Trader Joe’s, and we will continue do so until we complete this important work.”

Other brands identified by the petition include “Arabian Joe” for Middle Eastern foods, “Trader Giotto’s” for Italian foods and “Trader Joe San” for Japanese cuisine.

An exact date for when the products’ packaging would be changed wasn’t known but was expected very soon, Friend-Daniel told the sister site of the San Francisco Chronicle, adding some products have already been changed.

Trader Joe’s officials didn’t immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment Saturday.

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SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times; USA Today