By CBSLA Staff

SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — More than 5,000 people have signed an online petition posted a few weeks ago urging Trader Joe’s to relabel products labeled Trader José, Trader Giotto’s and Trader Ming’s.

Trader Joe’s says it will not change its product labels that an online petition claims are racist. (CBSLA)

The petition alleges that the branding is racist and demanded it be changed. And while it originally seemed like the company was going to take action in response to the calls for change, the company has released a new statement that it would stay the course.

“A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to ‘remove racist packaging from [our] products,'” the company said. “We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions.”

Trader Joe’s also said some of the names have been used for decades, saying that they believed the “naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures.”

And that’s exactly how Marcus Ta-Te-A, whose family in from Vietnam, feels.

“I believe it’s just Trader Joe’s’ way of marketing and branding their products,” he said. “Personally, myself, I don’t take any offense to it.”

But John Maciddo, who is Filipino American, said he did not like the branding of the Trader Ming’s line.

“On a marketing and economic standpoint, it’s a great idea,” he said. “But in a very ethical way, it’s very BS. It’s just bad.”

And while Cynthia Koh, who was born and raised in America by her Korean parents, said she was not personally offended, she understood how some people would feel that way.

“When someone pointed out this issue, it is true when I saw Trader Giotto’s, it doesn’t have the same feeling of exoticism to it,” she said. “And it feels more like old world charm instead of, ‘Oh, look at this exotic food that we’re eating.'”

A number of people have taken to social media to both praise and condemn the retail giant’s decision to stay with its original branding.

Comments (5)
  1. Duane Spivey says:

    My stand is and always will be if you are not of that ethic group you have no opinion whether a particular statement, act, or behavior is racist, one can’t possibly feel or know how another ethnicity feels about a slogan, picture, term, or statement only the people of that ethnic group can dictate what is and isn’t sensitive to them, this has always been an issue in the United States how we are so arrogant we feel we can tell another ethnic group what they should or shouldn’t feel, what’s racist and what isn’t racist and you are not a part of that culture.

    1. Rich Tanner says:

      “I would like to order a pan fried circular beaten corn/wheat breaded object with meat added on top of it with lettuce, some tomato, onion and sauce developed by those living in Mexico”. The person taking my order would ask “Do you mean a Taco?” Then we would hear the thought police sirens in the distance…

  2. These are the same people that need a ‘participation trophy’, even though their team finished last.

  3. Mehmet says:

    The issue is very American, in no their country would this be considered even remotely racist, I applaud Trader Joe’s for rejecting what can only be the result of a totally distorted understanding of what racism means from a minority of inferiority complexed people. The company is called Trader Joe’s, absolutely natural to have branding for international foods with relevant Trader abc names. This has to stop, this kind of ridiculous behavior is not helping anything, on the contrary it hurts the fight against real racism, the kind that matters.
    Fact is, unless someone was born and raised in a country/continent they are American, not Irish American, not Italian American, not African American etc. just ask anyone from any of those places and they will tell you the same.

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