Why You Should Think Twice About Buying Sushi At Trader Joe's

Since arriving in the United States in the late-1960s, Food52 says that sushi quickly became an immensely popular food with many Americans. From delicate slices of traditional tuna and salmon sashimi to Americanized versions of the food like California and Philadelphia rolls, the food's popularity began to really take off in the 1970s, becoming a full-on phenomenon by the '80s. It's estimated that there are over 4,000 Japanese restaurants across the US, and nearly 62 percent of the population have the enjoyed the Japanese dish, according to Food Truck Empire. With so much hype surrounding sushi, Taste states that many supermarkets and grocery stores began offering their own take on the fishy snack sometime in the '90s (with some stores being more successful than others).

While we've all heard the jokes surrounding the authenticity and quality of sushi that doesn't come from a restaurant (aka gas station sushi), we can sometimes look past those biases when comparing price tags between the grocery store and our favorite sushi spot. However, we have some seriously unfortunate news for fans of the discount grocery chain Trader Joe's or anyone hoping to snag a roll or two for extra cheap.

What's so bad about Trader Joe's sushi?

In 2015, Buzzfeed conducted a little test asking a sushi chef to grade inexpensive sushi from several places, Trader Joe's being one of them. The chef, who admitted to frequently shopping at the discount grocer, gave the chain's offering a resounding negative zero (ouch!). Maybe you feel a sushi chef has too discerning of a palate to be accurately grading grocery store sushi for the average consumer. Well, reviewers on Chowhound agree with the chef, describing Trader Joe's sushi as "the bottom of the barrel" when it comes to grocery store options, saying the rice seems weirdly compressed and the sushi is low quality all-round. One reviewer went as far as to describe the rolls having "gray avocado and suspect 'fish product'" in them.

A former Trader Joe's employee even wrote that they were told not to eat the sushi they sold, as it is pre-packaged and shipped to the store from a production facility and not made fresh (via Spoon University). If that isn't cause for concern, maybe the fact that Fortune reported in 2019 Trader Joe's had to issue a nationwide recall on its sushi due to a possible listeria contamination. According to the Trader Joe's website, there were ten items included in the Fuji Foods product recall — seven of which were sushi rolls (the other three being a poke bowl, noodle bowl, and queso fundido). The evidence to skip Trader Joe's sushi products is strong, so it's probably best to avert your eyes when walking past that section, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy all the other wonderful products offered by your local Trader Joe's.