Trader Joe's Products That Completely Failed

Trader Joe's executives constantly make decisions about the store's products, from introducing new ones to canning existing ones. The brand has removed items from the shelves for various reasons. Issues with low sales volume and, most notably, food safety have led to the disappearance of several of its offerings. 


The company has been in some tough spots regarding product recalls due to unexpected health hazards. When products fail to meet Trader Joe's rigorous safety standards, the brand strives to work with vendors to quickly remove the troublesome items. Recall announcements demonstrate the brand's transparency and prompt responses to public concerns; safety aside, these incidents may cause a profit loss that affects the company's reputation and bottom line. Although Trader Joe's customers' favorite products tend to stay in the stores, the brand has recalled and removed a number of products from its diverse array of goods for one reason or another. Here are some of the items that went out of the revolving door.


The Chicken Enchiladas Verde were tainted with Listeria

TikTok users have reviewed many of Trader Joe's easy-to-prepare weeknight dinners, including its Chicken Enchiladas Verde. The main ingredients were white chicken, a cheese blend including Monterey Jack and cotija, and a "mildly spicy" green chili sauce, as stated on the product label. Customers could buy the plastic package showcasing corn tortillas with these appealing ingredients for a quick lunch or dinner. After creating some interest on social media, however, the enchiladas met their demise in February 2024 due to safety issues. 


Trader Joe's recalled the enchiladas and three other items due to possible Listeria contamination, by way of the cotija cheese they contained. The bacteria can live in unpasteurized soft cheeses and unheated deli cheeses. Consumers who eat food contaminated with the harmful Listeria monocytogenes bacterium can contract listeriosis, a serious infection that affects an estimated 1,600 people annually in the United States. A little more than 16%, or about 260, die from the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

With this urgent matter requiring their attention and swift action, Trader Joe's told its customers to toss the item. The potential threat was made public after Rizo-López Foods, Inc., a family-owned California-based company, voluntarily recalled the possibly infected dairy that Trader Joe's used in these products. Other retail brands also used the cotija from Rizo-López, as well. Trader Joe's states on its "Food Safety Overview" webpage that it has "close" relationships with its vendors and promptly opens investigations into problematic products.


The Steamed Chicken Soup Dumplings might have contained plastic

Trader Joe's produced another unique offering with its Steamed Chicken Soup Dumplings. The product's appeal went beyond the actual dumplings — the full-bodied broth made for a delicious filling. Onions, ginger, chicken, and soy sauce shaped the broth's complex flavor profile, and the dumplings were sealed before being steamed to perfection. Buyers bit into the soupy dumplings for a decadent and delightful eating experience, and the company promoted the savory selection as a comfort food celebrating the culture of Chinese dining.  


Yet Trader Joe's Steamed Chicken Soup Dumplings got the ax in March 2024 after the store discovered the possibility of "foreign material" in the dish. The chain proactively pulled the product over substantial concerns about the potential presence of plastic, which has become waste and a cause of global pollution. The plastic in question was apparently from a magic marker. Though Trader Joe's told customers to be cautious, no one reported specific health issues connected to the dumplings, according to the company. 

There may have been rocks in the Fully Cooked Falafel

The company also named a potential "foreign material" as the culprit in its decision to ax its Fully Cooked Falafel in July 2023. Possible contamination with rocks took the item off the shelves. The precooked product was a convenient choice for those searching for a different take on the popular street food. It also showed that falafels are easy to toss on top of a salad or add to a wrap or pita for a quick lunch or snack. 


Trader Joe's also sells Greek Chickpeas with Cumin and Parsley, which can work as a canned substitute for the Fully Cooked Falafels. The company draws attention to the item's Mediterranean-inspired main ingredient while spotlighting the simple symphony of salt, parsley, comforting cumin, garlic powder, and black pepper. Trader Joe's serving recommendations include pairing the garbanzo beans with seared fish or poultry. Another option for home cooks is to prepare falafels at home. Roasted beet falafels can be a tasty treat. 

Spicy, Smoky, Peach Salsa just didn't sell well

Customers may know that Trader Joe's discontinues some items due to slow sales. That was the case for its Spicy, Smoky, Peach Salsa, which made it costly to keep making, as Matt Sloan, marketing VP at Trader Joe's and co-host of the brand's "Inside Trader Joe's" podcast, revealed in a 2022 episode covering discontinued products. The unique salsa may have had a limited fan base, but some shoppers did respond to the product because of its refreshing appeal.  


For any salsa, fresh fruit brings a wow factor. For a fruity alternative to the axed product, you could add a generous sprinkle of smoky spices, along with crave-worthy chewable chunks of fruit, into another salsa. This'll allow you to adjust the heat factor depending on your tolerance level or balance that bold flavor with the sweetness of the fruit in your homemade salsa. If you're still looking for a salsa fix, especially for spring or any season, a roasted garden salsa is a satisfactory snack.

The Elote Chopped Salad Kit was also contaminated with Listeria

A chopped salad kit is a popular food item in any produce section, offering several synergistic ingredients that highlight the variety of palate-pleasing greens available to healthy eaters. You can chew a mouthful of spinach, arugula, chard, kale, iceberg, romaine lettuce, or another mix of greens to create a medley in your mouth. The tossed-in toppings that adorn your salad can be a special blend of onions, olives, cheese, or other tasty add-ons that provide blended and balanced flavors.


Trader Joe's has carried a number of salad kits. The Avocado Ranch Salad Kit merges green and red cabbage with kale and green onions with extra goodies such as corn chips. Also, the BBQ & Black Pepper Toscano Chopped Salad brings the heat for those who like spice and smoky flavor. 

However, the produce section at Trader Joe's became a bit emptier in February 2024 after the chain pulled its Elote Chopped Salad Kit for the potential presence of Listeria in the kit's cotija cheese — the same cheese from Rizo-López Foods that shut down the Chicken Enchiladas Verde. Listeria germs can spread to any exposed food placed in contaminated areas or that comes into contact with contaminated equipment. The microorganisms can also move from the food onto surfaces. The ease with which Listeria spreads makes it hard work for any food-processing plant to rid its spaces of these germs.  


The Unexpected Broccoli Cheddar Soup came with insects

Trader Joe's also discontinues products that "no longer represent a value," notes Tara Miller, also a marketing VP at Trader Joe's and the other co-host of the "Inside Trader Joe's" podcast, in the "Value and Supply Chain" episode. Notably, a loss of value can stem from a product having been recalled for public health reasons. Safety concerns over a probable insect infestation are what brought about the removal of Trader Joe's Unexpected Broccoli Cheddar Soup in July 2023. As usual, the company addressed the removal in a notice to shoppers about the "unexpected" elements in the soup. 


The soup's most hyped component was Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar, a long-term favorite and top-ranked item. The brand's velvety cheese has frequently ranked high in its annual Customer Choice Awards, which inspired TJ's now-recalled velvety addition to its line of ready-to-eat soups. There were no reported cases of illness related to the soup, but it is sadly no longer for sale. 

There might have been rocks in the Almond Windmill Cookies

Trader Joe's takes food safety seriously and announces the removal of products found problematic to its customers. In July 2023, the chain cut its Almond Windmill Cookies after finding the treat may have contained rocks. Suppliers sounded the alarm on both those cookies and the brand's Dark Chocolate Chunk and Almond Cookies, and Trader Joe's told customers to steer clear of them. 


Of course, Trader Joe's markets several types of cookies, from snickerdoodles to sprinkle-topped ones. You can find the Tiniest Chocolate Chip Cookies, coin-shaped, small-sized kosher snacks that can serve as a topping for your favorite gelato, frozen yogurt, or ice cream. The layered All Butter Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Raspberry Filling offer fruity fun inside sweet biscuits. 

If customers want other crunchy compensation options for the loss of the Almond Windmill Cookies, Trader Joe's cookie mixes might be sufficient, as well. With a little baking, you could cultivate a beautiful batch of cookies, perhaps working in the brand's Cinnamon Sugar Almonds, for a rich homemade replacement to the axed products. And if you're still in a dessert mood and want a more rewarding baking experience, try a recipe for frosted almond sugar cookies.


TJ's Southwest Salad had Listeria in its cotija, as well

This healthy item was taken off shelves because of the possibility of an unhealthy contaminant; Trader Joe's Southwest Salad was another casualty connected to the cotija cheese from Rizo-López Foods potentially contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.


The bacterium is most harmful to newborns, young children, older people, and immunocompromised individuals, especially those on medications that inhibit the body's ability to stop the spread of germs. Pregnant women have experienced miscarriages and stillbirths after Listeria infections. Those in good health can still suffer temporary symptoms including nausea, fevers, tiredness, and abdominal pain. These short-term effects are considered more mild, as more serious symptoms can arise with listeriosis. Signs of a severe case include confusion and convulsions.

It is safe to say that salad fans will want find a healthy alternative to Trader Joe's Southwest Salad. Of course, the brand's other salad kits are there for the taking. You could also whip up a homemade salad comparable to this pulled product. Experimentation may go a long way here: You can try mixing different lettuce and cabbage. If color is your jam, then, as the Skittles tagline says, "taste the rainbow" with an array of bright-colored foods in your salad. A robust helping of carrots, radishes, or squash may be perfect. If you're sad about this axed item and looking for inspiration, there are plenty great salad recipes out there.


The Cilantro Salad Dressing contained contaminated cotija, too

Trader Joe's Cilantro Salad Dressing, the fourth product to leave shelves in early 2024 due to the potential threat of cotija cheese contaminated with Listeria, disappeared despite considerable social media buzz around the condiment. In a joint report, FDA and CDC referred to the contaminated cotija incident as an "outbreak," citing 26 cases in 11 states. The highest number of cases was in California, with eight reported infections. Arizona and Colorado each had four cases, and there were two cases each in Texas and Tennessee. Six states had one case each: Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. 


The outbreak also led to 23 hospitalizations and two deaths, according to the report. The CDC declared the outbreak to be "over" as of April 2024, and the FDA put in place a prevention plan to reduce cases and outbreaks of listeriosis related to "soft fresh queso fresco cheeses."

Those looking for a fresh substitute for the cilantro dressing may want to say yes to other herb-based vinaigrettes. Trader Joe's salad dressings have become a brand staple, including the avocado-based Green Goddess Dressing. You can also make your own dressing for a different option than the store-bought varieties — just be sure to avoid common homemade salad dressing mistakes if you do.

The Multigrain Crackers with Sunflower and Flax Seeds may have included metal

Trader Joe's markets a wide array of specialty crackers, but inevitably, some will disappear from shelves. The company pulled its Multigrain Crackers with Sunflower and Flax Seeds for the possible presence of metal in August 2023. TJ's supplier alerted the brand to the suspected contamination, prompting the product's removal. Thankfully, there are no reported injuries. 


The Multigrain Crackers with Sunflower and Flax Seeds represented another effort on the part of Trader Joe's to appeal to vegan shoppers. Usually, the success of a vegan option sparks the development of similar options at the neighborhood-friendly grocery chain. The brand has introduced Meatless Ground pea protein crumbles, Crisp Crunchy Crisps made with pea and chickpea flour, Vegan Italian Bolognese Ravioli, Red Pepper, Cranberry, & Walnut Dip, and Gluten Free Battered Plant-Based Fish Fillets, among other offerings. Customers can combine their favorite plant-based products or create more options. 

There were rocks in the Chicken, Lentil & Caramelized Onion Pilaf

The possibility of "foreign material" took Trader Joe's Chicken, Lentil & Caramelized Onion Pilaf off the shelves nationwide in February 2024. Buyers brought up the issue of rocks in the pilaf to the brand, according to a report from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Trader Joe's notified the FSIS of the complaints, including one customer's report of a dental injury connected to the product's consumption. There are no additional reports, said the agency. 


The protein-packed pilaf contained a potent combination of filling ingredients: green lentils, basmati rice, caramelized onions, and dark meat chicken. The inspiration for the frozen product was adas polo, a Middle Eastern rice layered and textured with lentils and other spices. Dates and raisins raised the product's flavor profile, adding touches of sweetness. Spices included cumin, cinnamon, and saffron, all with the flavor-enhancing powers of salt and pepper. 

This pilaf is gone, but you can create your own wild rice pilaf. The dish can be the perfect spicy punch for an afternoon picnic or dinner party, and you can use your preferred type of rice, from brown to jasmine.

TJ's 50% Less Salt Roasted & Salted Whole Cashews may have contained Salmonella

Trader Joe's axed a product that offered a lower-sodium option for cashew connoisseurs in March 2024. Its 50% Less Salt Roasted & Salted Whole Cashews left stores due to a potential pollutant. Specifically, possible contamination with Salmonella forced a recall of the product, which was only available in a handful of states. The affected states included Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington.


Trader Joe's has a similar product with its 50% Less Salt Roasted & Salted Peanuts, a suitable alternative for those seeking a healthier snack. Peanut oil makes for a better roasting process for these peanuts; customers can munch and crunch their way to snack heaven. Adventurous home cooks can also add these nuts, as well as almonds, walnuts, or a different cashew brand like Costco's Black Label Cashews, to bars, salads, stir-fries, and steamed vegetables galore.

Infinite Herbs' Organic Basil was potentially contaminated with Salmonella

In April 2024, Trader Joe's asked customers to discard any packages of Infinite Herbs Organic Basil they'd bought. Salmonella had potentially contaminated the product and ended the chain's sales of it. Trader Joe's stayed true to its routine by sharing news of the product's termination on its website, in-store signage, and through email alerts. The brand supersedes regulations with its sharing information through different communication channels. When in doubt about any product, the company exercises caution in making critical decisions. 


The FDA also made a significant choice and launched an investigation into the Salmonella outbreak, which was connected to both Infinite Herbs' Organic Basil, sold in Trader Joe's stores, and Melissa's-brand basil, available in Dierburgs stores in Illinois. Infinite Herbs, LLC, headquartered in Florida, recalled the basil following the investigation announcement. As its name suggests, the company specializes in selling fresh organic herbs. Of course, myriad stores sell basil for your cooking needs; just pick an option and try Gordon Ramsay's basil chopping technique