Woman talking(l+r), Trader Joe's(c)

Refrina/Shutterstock @dodidays/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘I’m scared’: Woman questions Trader Joe’s meat after chicken doesn’t expire for a month

'How does the meat last a month?'


Jack Alban


Posted on Feb 8, 2024   Updated on Feb 14, 2024, 12:42 pm CST

In the bustling aisles of a recent viral sensation, TikToker Dodi (@dodidays) has challenged the collective subconscious with her revelation about Trader Joe’s chicken. With a healthy mixture of concern and conspiracy, her video has sliced into the heart of food quality discussions, racking up over 258,000 views and spawning a divide among viewers.

“There is no way that Trader Joe’s is serving us real food,” Dodi declares from the driver’s seat of her car, setting the stage for a head-first dive into the preservation and packaging of supermarket fare.

Dodi’s skepticism about the authenticity of Trader Joe’s offerings stemmed from a personal dining distaste. “I ate chicken and rice from there the other day, and I just kind of felt like the chicken was not hitting right,” she explains. “The rice was kind of just like, meh.”

The heart of her concern? The chicken doesn’t expire until a month after purchase, leading her to a culinary existential crisis: “How does the meat last a month? And then I just started tripping out, and I was like, am I even eating real food?”

Dodi wasn’t the only TikTok user who seemed to have a problem with Trader Joe’s offerings. In another video, Lexi (@lexdellermo) says she stopped getting produce from there after each item she purchased would go bad as soon as she left the store.

Lexi says she opted to only purchase select items from the retailer, but some came to the deduction that the wares offered by the store weren’t actually “real” and that TJ’s is just shilling “play food” to its shoppers.

The comments section of Dodi’s exposé, as well as the chorus of viewers who replied to Lexi’s video, turned into an open market of opinions.

A staunch defender of the grocery chain shared, “Been shopping at Trader Joe’s for 30 years now. Food tastes great, spoils as food normally would & should, family is alive and doing well.”

Contrarily, another viewer expressed confusion over the suspected “too-long” longevity of Dodi’s chicken in question, stating, “Idk about y’all but I get things from Trader Joe’s and they go bad overnight. Fruit, veggie, meat … it doesn’t make sense. I’m the opposite lol.”

The discourse didn’t stop there. Suspicions about the source of Trader Joe’s meats surfaced with one comment: “I know someone who works at TJ and was told to never buy meat from there.” Meanwhile, another succinctly captured a general unease with, “I’ve always felt weird about Trader Joe’s,” reflecting a broader notion of mistrust with the beloved store. This is all very enlightening especially when considered in the context of a recent Trader Joe’s recall of Chicken Rice Pilaf.  

@dodidays sorry to be a fun sucker #traderjoes #food #fyp #chicken #elonmusk ♬ original sound – Dodi

Trader Joe’s, founded in 1967, is a grocery chain lauded for its eclectic selection and commitment to quality. Historically, the store has prided itself on offering unique, private-label products that cater to the gourmet and the budget-conscious simultaneously. Despite its reputation for a friendly atmosphere and sustainable practices, Dodi’s video gave viewers quite the musing about food preservation and what “real” food means to the educated, modern consumer.

One commenter, however, sliced through the speculation with an answer: vacuum sealing. “The vacuum-sealed packaging makes the food last longer. That’s why Costco and other stores have similar food that lasts for weeks to months. Sprouts premade food isn’t vacuum sealed,” they explained, offering a morsel of food science to chew on before viewers went straight to hating.

@lexdellermo #stitch with @Dodi ♬ original sound – Lexi

Indeed, vacuum sealing is a widely used method for extending the shelf life of meat by reducing oxidation, slowing bacterial growth, and retaining moisture. This technique allows meat to maintain its quality and safety for significantly longer periods, whether refrigerated or frozen.

As Dodi’s video marinates in the minds of viewers, it raises all-too-important concerns about the balance between food preservation and perceived “naturalness”. In the lean times of a 2024 economy, the value of Trader Joe’s and similar grocery stores in stretching the American dollar cannot be overstated. However, Dodi’s viral video serves as a reminder that, in our quest for affordability and convenience, it’s essential to stay informed about the methods behind our meals.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Trader Joe’s and Dodi via email for further comment.

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*First Published: Feb 8, 2024, 7:00 am CST