Declining quality of Trader Joe's fresh food
I've been shopping at Trader Joe's for a good ten years. I live in CA, and am lucky enough to live near several farmers markets, so TJ's is definitely not my go-to for produce. That said, I often buy their bagged salads (I enjoy the mix of greens and the ease of it) and their fresh chicken (good prices on both "all-natural" and organic). There are multiple TJ's near my house so it's an easy option.
However, my experiences over the last few months have me thinking that I am DONE with purchasing fresh food at TJs whatsoever. The quality of the bagged baby spinach and lettuces seems to have declined considerably. I often find a stray "mystery leaf" or ten in these bags - since I don't know what these leaves are, I'm afraid to eat them. And no, they aren't the seed leaves/cotelydons from the spinach (though there are tons of those in the baby spinach bags too - gross) - they are a completely different unrecognizable leaf all together. Sometimes I even find blades of grass. Yum.
And the chicken - I've had to bring back fresh chicken breasts and thighs on the day of purchase 5 times over the last four months. The expiry date on this chicken ranged for four days to over a week in the future, so it should have been fine - but now when I open a package of TJ's chicken I have to always check for that telltale rotten eggy smell. The Empire brand kosher chicken usually seems to be ok, but it's not what I prefer.
Has anyone else noticed a decline in quality at TJs? It's really frustrating because I've really loved shopping there over the years, and to have to go to Whole Foods to buy bagged lettuce or chicken is annoying.
Where is your particular store? When meat goes bad on a regular basis in a grocery store, I strongly suspect problems with their refrigeration. There is a Von's near my location where I used to avoid buying milk, as it always seemed to go bad days before its date (this has since been fixed). As for the bagged salads, I noticed the last few times I got them at Trader Joe that they did not seem to stand up.
I haven't noticed any significant change in the quality at TJs. Once in a while something will be bad, but they are so good about replacing it--don't even ask for the sales slips most times--that I just chalk it up to busy store and things happen. As to the chicken, I don't buy it there but my general experience, and understanding, is that those completely sealed chickens usually smell when you first open them but with a rinsing that goes away--if it doesn't then it is a "bad" chicken.