HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


They really should be more clear about this!

Busy day today, so for a quick dinner I grabbed some ground beef and taco seasoning from Trader Joe's. I figured, TJ's stuff is usually good, I'll give the taco seasoning a shot, it's only 69 cents.

Apparently, you are only supposed to use 1/2 of the packet per pound of beef. Looking at it, you wouldn't guess it, and every other time I've bought other brands of taco seasoning (more often that I care to admit on CH) it's 1 packet per pound of meat.

My toungue is still on fire.

What have you guys encountered that really could have been labeled better?
Not at TJ's necessarily, but in general.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The first time I try a new product I always read everything carefully.
    Still, it wouldn't hurt TJ to emblazon the package with "Add to 2 lbs. meat!"

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tripeler

      Especially since this is a convenience food, I was in a rush after a busy day, and the package is the same weight as other brands I have used. Also, they sell ground beef in 1 lb packages.

    2. ummm... If the package is intended for two pounds of meat, not one, then you obviously did not read the label, so what good would better labeling do? Just askin'. '-)

      5 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1

        It doesn't say that it is for 2lbs, it says use 1/2 package per lb of meat. Most other brands are 1 pkg to 1lb of meat. Sure I should have read it more carefully, but that doesn't mean it isn't a confusing label.

        And, considering nearly every cup of coffee is now labeled with a caution that it might be hot, why not include more useful info in clear, legible type.

        I didn't post this so I could defend myself for not reading a label, I was hoping for others to share what they feel are confusing labels or packaging.

        1. re: iluvcookies

          And Sweetheart, I am NOT trying to pick on you. However, I don't see any difference between "use 1/2 package per pound of meat" and "Use entire package for two pounds of meat." It's simply two ways of saying the exact same thing. Right? :-)

          1. re: Caroline1

            I work in product development in the consumer goods (non-food) industry and have spend lots and lots of time with packaging designers making sure that instructions and features of an item are abundantly clear on packaging.
            So to me, whoever developed this package didn't research their competition and see that other brands are 1 pkg to 1lb. And then proceeded to put the info for using 1/2g pkg in very small type.

            1. re: iluvcookies

              yeah, you would think they would want to advertise and put a big "makes 2 pounds' or something prominent that would make you take a second look. (but depending on who im cooking for i sometimes put more than one packet of other brands in a pound of beef - also depending on what other spices i have in the cabinet at the time.)

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                At TJs, one brand of spices does not have to fight another for shelf space or buyer's attention. The packaging for this item is not particularly eye catching.


                On the front it just says 'Taco Seasoning Mix'

      2. What did the packaging actually say about usage?

        1. What applies to computers, applies to cooking: RTFM. :-)

          1. "Ingredients: sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, cane sugar, paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, red bell pepper, oregano, chili pepper, and smoked paprika.

            I haven't tried this, but the placement of cayenne pepper high on the list hints that it will be spicy hot. One online reviewer thought so, even when used as per directions. The above reviewer says it isn't too salty. How was the salt level when made it with 1 lb of meat?

            If the salt level wasn't too high with 1 lb, then I think the heat level is too high for your tastes.

            The Wick Fowler 2 Alarm Chili mix has a rather prominent '2 lbs meat' on the front of the box.

            Another review:
            " This is some good good spicy stuff. It's heavy on the cayenne and chili pepper, with a good dash of black pepper, too.... It's definitely spicy, although, naturally, a little too heavy on the seasoned salt and salt in general."

            11 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              It wasn't too salty, just extremely spicy.
              Yes, I should have read the package more thouroughly. And perhaps a long, busy day wan't the best time to try a new item. Lesson learned.

              I was just trying to find out if anyone else had interesting stories similar to this.

              1. re: iluvcookies

                Well, there was the time my husband used an entire can of Mae Ploy green curry paste in a smallish curry. One can of coconut milk was no where near enough to tame those flames!

                1. re: ChristinaMason

                  Ouch! It can be so hard to judge with spicy things, since such a tiny little bit can go a long way. I'm usually pretty careful about such things, but once in a while, it happens!

                2. re: iluvcookies

                  My guess is that even with 2 lb of meat, you would have found it to be too spicy.

                  The vague 'chili pepper' that they put near the bottom of the list tends to be near the top of the list on other brands. This is the milder pepper that gives color and background flavor. This would account for a difference in bulk.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Possibly.... though my spice tolerance has been improving lately.

                    1. re: paulj

                      I realize I'm stating the obvious, but when you mix your own, YOU have complete control. Which is why I haven't used a mix in about a half century. No. Wait! When I bought my Sous Vide Supreme, they sent me three complimentary spice blends; one for fish, one for lamb, and one for Cajun. I have NO idea what they taste like... '-)

                    2. re: iluvcookies

                      I'm afraid our 40 years of cooking together has only managed one "failure to read the packaging" catastrophe. On our first Christmas, we'd bought what we thought was a packet of sweet white sauce mix (to accompany the Christmas pudding) only to find it was a savoury one as we served it up.

                      1. re: Harters

                        That made me smile... 40 years :) Congrats

                      2. re: iluvcookies

                        It looks as if it doesn't have the filler added that the supermarket brands do. Starchy stuff that thickens the seasoning into a sauce.

                        It would never occur to me to use a product without reading every ingredient and also knowing how many servings it is... but I'm an info junkie.

                        Here's why the big packet from the supermarket seasons only 1 lb. Yes, and they also must be much bulkier in their packets due to undesirable added stuff that TJ's doesn't have: http://www.dietfacts.com/html/nutriti... It's mostly starch, and sweetener, not seasoning.

                        1. re: mcf

                          Maltodextrin, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, spice, monosodium glutamate, corn starch, yellow corn flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, silicon dioxide (anticaking agent), natural flavor, ethoxyquin (preservative).

                          Again 'chili pepper' - the mild form, not cayenne.

                          Maltodextrin - a modified starch, filler and thickener, may or may not be sweet.

                          corn flour, corn starch - starch, probably for thickening. In baking powder corn starch is a moisture absorber and filler, but that's a baking ingredient.

                          The TJ version does not have these, though it does have some sugar.

                          The TJ package has less sodium than the El Paso - so if made according to directions the TJ version is half as salty (12*260 = 3120g sodium per 2 lb meat; 6*560=3360g per 1 lb meat.) Taking El Paso as the standard, there's nothing wrong with make the TJ version with a 1 lb of meat - if you can stand the heat.

                        2. re: iluvcookies

                          the exact, EXACT same thing happened to me with a sauce we bought at a natural foods store. It was a liquid package, not powder, but I looked over the ingredients and didn't see anythign amiss. My 3 year old was the first to reject it. He said his tongue was burning and I thought he was being an overreactive, picky toddler til I tasted mine. I spit it out. I like a little spice but this was just on FIRE. We ended up throwing the whole thing away. I don't know, in retrospect, if perhaps it was for 2 pounds of meat instead of 1 but I doubt that would have helped much anyway, it still would have been too hot. I mean, maybe if we put in TWENTY pounds each bite wouldnt' be as hot, but yeah, 1 more pound wouldn't have helped.

                      3. I'm not being snarky at all, but why would one assume that 1lbs of meat would be the default serving/package?

                        I don't ever use pre-packaged seasoning, so maybe this par for the course. Just curious.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          It is par for the course... Ortega and Old El Paso (most common supermarket brands) are 1 pkg to 1 lb and weigh the same (1.25 to 1.3 oz)

                          1. re: iluvcookies

                            the schilling, mccormak, and store brand spice mixes are almost all intended for one pound of meat, be it for spaghetti, tacos, chili, fajitas, whatever. we don't get the 'authentic' brands here much (and yes, ortega and old el paso are authentic compared to some of the stuff ive seen.)

                          2. re: ipsedixit

                            I agree with you ipsedixit, I normally don't use prepared seasonings, as they are almost always "too" something. But, IMHO, seeing as how TJ is usually above standard, I would have read the package. I would have surprised that a TJ package weighted and felt the same as normal McCormick style stuff, since I would not be expecting the fillers and additives. But that's me.

                          3. I've bought that before and almost did the same thing. Fortunately, it had been a long time since I bought a taco mix (I usually make up 2-3 batches worth and store it in a jar), so it occurred to me to read the label just to be sure. And yes, for these middle-aged eyes, that print is tiny! Even using the powder as directed, my son still thought it was wicked spicy. Had to dilute with refried beans.

                            1. How odd. I rarely make tacos in any amount other than 1 lb- I think that's probably the norm for most people. So, with this seasoning you're supposed to carefully measure out 1/2 the packet and store the rest in the little paper envelope? Seems like too much effort for 69 cents...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Hobbert

                                And for 69 cents, I really didn't expect to get 2 meals worth.

                              2. I always use just half a package anyway for a pound of hamburger. At our grocery store (where I shop), the meat comes in multiple sized packages, and I rarely buy just one pound. I make it a habit to read instructions, especially for something different. I even read the package directions for simple things like pasta and rice if it is a different brand than I usually buy. I can see how it happens, though.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: wyogal

                                  The 2 markets I frequent (TJs and A&P) tend to have pkg of ground beef pretty close to 1lb each, and if I buy larger pkgs, I always separate it into +/-1lb pkgs for the freezer. Most nights I'm just cooking for 2, so more than 1lb at a time is rare in my kitchen.

                                2. Sorry, but I have to agree with others who said it was your responsibility to read the package.

                                  Bad day at work or not, this isn't TJ's fault.

                                  While I can't recall the brands right off the top of my head, I've bought several "Chili Kits" that are meant for 2 pounds of meat, but I use them anyway for 1 pound, diluting with other "stuff" to make them good for us. But never accidentally - I ALWAYS read package directions.

                                  While I can realize that your pissed, it should be at yourself, not TJ's.

                                  1. I was looking at the nutrition information on a 7 ounce jar of Lao Gan Ma hot sauce awhile back. This is pretty spicy stuff- a spoonful will wake up a whole pan of stir-fry or make a largish bowl of rice or veggies plenty hot for me. Anyway I noticed the sodium was very high. And the fats. And even the carbs & potassium. Finally I thought to check the portion they were talking about- serving size: 1 CUP. That's bigger than the jar itself... My first thought was well, somebody over there sure likes it spicy!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                      Wow.... now THAT is a label in need of a proofreader!

                                    2. I think there should be no variation on green packaging for decaf and brown for regular coffee beans. The coffee I bought for years at my local grocer had very similar packs for both. I always had to squint to see if there was any green lettering on it. The Costco decaf coffee bean pack I bought recently is labeled nicely but the pack is a bright turquoise.

                                      If you keep both varieties in your house, as I do, you need a differentiating label for the decaf.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                        The coffee packets at my job are like that... all too easy to grab a decaf first thing in the morning.
                                        And why green (or any other color) packaging fof the decaf, if the handles on decaf pots are orange?

                                        1. re: iluvcookies

                                          Ah! You are right. Except I was remembering green handles for decaf pots! I know I've seen green on large commercial urns.

                                      2. Sounds like an easy mistake to make since most other brands call for 1 lb meat per package.
                                        I'll have to add the TJ's taco seasoning to my list. It sounds good.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: dave_c

                                          If memory serves, a packet of Williams chili mix is meant to season 2 lbs meat, but I always used it for one, and thought it was pretty good.

                                        2. How would you suggest that the package could have been labeled better?

                                          It seems like what you're really saying is that you would have preferred the package to contain 50% less product than it did.

                                          1. If I'd been in a hurry, I might easily have done the same thing, just on supposing. As far as labelling clarity, I find I have the most fun with it trying to interpret the oft-poorly translated instructions on packaging from my local Asian supermarket. Granted; I know what to do with ramen; steaming dumplings is fairly self-explanatory. BUT every now and again I come across something like, "finely soak residues when rinsing in the salty rinse of a cold yet again boiling water, and then set to being rinsed in pork flavor of packaged item." So, anyway.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: mamachef

                                              I hear you.... I've seen packages at H-Mart and other places that have lengthy explanations in Chinese or Japanese--with illustrations!--and the English directions say something very simple, such as "Add water and stir".

                                            2. Looked at this package at TJ today. Says 'Made in South Africa'.

                                              OK, the labeling must have been specified by TJ when ordering. But the country of origin may account for a different formulation than American 'taco mix' (much more cayenne), and maybe also the size (appropriate for 1 kg of meat). Also the lack of starch (there is a no gluten subnote).

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: paulj

                                                That's pretty good detective work :) And it makes perfect sense. Thanks.