Allergy Alert: Trust Your Gut! Trader Joe’s lied to me!

I love Panang Curry. We go to our local Thai place and I always get the same thing. Panang Curried Tofu. I drool just thinking about it. Anyway, Tom was at Trader Joe’s in the freezer section getting me my naan that I always keep on hand, and he saw frozen Vegetable Panang Curry frozen entree. He picked it up and checked the ingredients for my allergen: Bell Peppers. He didn’t see any. Turned over the box and the picture sure looked like Bell Peppers were in it but he read the ingredients 2 more times and technically nothing listed is red at al. Maybe the “serving suggestion” label on the front meant one should add more veggies? But relying on the ingredients, he bought me the entree.

I will admit, the thought of having it at my fingertips was exciting! I made it after my long Saturday (the kids were on a movie set all day) and was excited to try it. It comes with the curry sauce on one side and the rice separate. Directions have you pour the sauce over the rice after it’s cooked. I followed the microwave directions and it smelled wonderful! It smelled just like my Thai place. I fluffed my rice, plated it and went to put the sauce on the rice. To my surprise, there were red things in my Panang curry – just like the picture! They sure looked like Red Bell Peppers. They sure smelled like them. Hubby tasted it and confirmed that they were!  There were only 3 and it’s easy to NOT see them but when you have a food allergy, that can be deadly! I am relieved that I didn’t have a chance to eat it before discovering the bell peppers. What I am not happy about is how Trader Joe’s neglected to list an ingredient in their food! I was floored and appalled and sad. I wrote to Trader Joe’s but have not heard back yet. I also contacted the FDA. (edited here to be up-to-date) I e-mailed Trader Joe’s on 9/28/15 and received a response on 10/12/2015 which is listed below.

Granted I don’t go into anaphylaxis but I IMMEDIATELY start violently vomiting uncontrollably with Bell Peppers. Actually, the smell alone sometimes makes me vomit. 

My issue is beyond me – if they forget this ingredient who is to say they don’t forget a peanut or some other threatening allergen that could potentially injure or kill someone? I want peopel to be aware that this is happening and to check your food!


Front pf packaging – not the red in the photo – we assumed “serving suggestion”


Close-up of the ingredient list. Do you see peppers listed on there? i don’t!


Back of the packaging. Included are the directions and the printed code.


So yeah, rice on bottom, sauce scooped on top with definite peppers. In the tray, you couldnt see the peppers (must have been on the bottom) but once I dumped it onto the rice, there they were in their red glory – mocking me and my allergy. I could smell the wonderful smell, but could not taste it!

*** UPDATE – October 12, 2015 ***

Trader Joe’s sent me an e-mail today that read:

     Hello, I am writing to you regarding the Incident Report you filed with Trader Joe’s and the Panang Curry Vegetables with Rice product.  
    I wanted to find out if you have any pictures of the product you would be able to forward to us so I could send to the factory.  We are in the process of reviewing all the production, procurement and shipping records in our efforts to conduct a complete investigation into this issue.  We use thin slices of Thai red chili in the Panang sauce but there have never been an approvals for any type of Red Bell Pepper in this product.  
    We have ceased all shipments of the product at this time until a confirmation has been made on this. 
    I would like to send you a Trader Joe’s gift card for your time and effort in letting us know about your experience with this product.   If you could send me an address as there was not one listed on the incident report.
     Thank you,
         Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxx
         Tesoros Foods
I sent them an e-mail back with the pictures. I asked to be kept in the loop regarding the investigation. 
One Response
  1. October 6, 2015

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