Trader Joe’s once again found itself the target of the Consumer’s Union campaign, Meat Without Drugs. Consumer’s Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, created a Valentine’s Day card that Trader Joe’s shoppers could fill in to let the company know they would like to buy antibiotic-free meat.
People sent almost 20,000 Valentine’s Day email cards to Trader Joe’s in response. “We’ve got a message for you this Valentine’s Day. Your customers tell us they love you for a lot of reasons…But love and hate make up any relationship—and they hate that you’re still selling meat raised on antibiotics,” a blog post proclaimed on the Consumer Report website, notinmyfood.org.
The consumer advocacy group took the campaign a step further when activists brought the Meat Without Drugs campaign to a Trader Joe’s in Santa Cruz on Valentine’s Day. The campaign event featured Joe the Pig, an activist dressed in a pig costume who carried a sign that stated, “Get Me Off Drugs!” This is not the first time Joe the Pig made an appearance at a Trader Joe’s store. Last fall, Consumer’s Union activists, including Joe the Pig, showed up at a Trader Joe’s in New York City demanding that the grocery store chain stop selling meat from animals raised on antibiotics. The activists handed out reusable shopping bags emblazoned with the message, “Hey, Trader Joe’s, Get Joe Off Drugs.” The group also tried to deliver a petition with over 500,000 signatures to the NYC store, but the company refused to meet with them.
Why is Consumer’s Union targeting Trader Joe’s when other grocery store chains also sell antibiotic-laced meat? A press release states that the grocery store chain is being targeted “because it already offers some chicken and beef raised without antibiotics, although no pork.” In addition, Consumer’s Union targets Trader Joe’s because 80 percent of the products it sells are private label, “which means it has direct control over its suppliers.” Trader Joe’s has made commitments to sustainable sourcing in the last few years from carrying eggs raised from only cage-free hens to using non-GMO ingredients in its private label products.
Consumers want antibiotic-free meat and poultry
A report by Consumer Reports revealed the results of research done by Consumer Reports shoppers. The shoppers visited 136 supermarkets in 23 states last year, and collected data on over 1,000 different meat and poultry items. They found “big differences among chains and stores” when it comes to availability of meat and poultry. Whole Foods guarantees that all meat and poultry sold in its stores is 100 percent antibiotic-free, but some stores such as Sam’s Club, Food 4 Less, Food Lion and Save-a-Lot stores didn’t sell any meat that indicated it was raised without antibiotics.
Despite the fact that some consumers can’t find meat and poultry not raised with antibiotics, many of them want to purchase antibiotic-free meat and poultry. A nationwide poll conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 86 percent of consumers said they thought that antibiotic-free meat should be available in their local supermarket. The poll also found that 24 percent of consumers said meat raised without antibiotics was not available at the supermarket where they usually shop. Of this group, 82 percent said they would buy it if it were available.
[Image credit: Flickr user, goodiesfirst]