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'We Disagree That Any Of These Labels Are Racist': Trader Joe's Declines To Change Product Names Over Online Petition

SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — More than 5,000 people have signed an online petition posted a few weeks ago urging Trader Joe's to relabel products labeled Trader José, Trader Giotto's and Trader Ming's.

Trader Jose
Trader Joe's says it will not change its product labels that an online petition claims are racist. (CBSLA)

The petition alleges that the branding is racist and demanded it be changed. And while it originally seemed like the company was going to take action in response to the calls for change, the company has released a new statement that it would stay the course.

"A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to 'remove racist packaging from [our] products,'" the company said. "We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions."

Trader Joe's also said some of the names have been used for decades, saying that they believed the "naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures."

And that's exactly how Marcus Ta-Te-A, whose family in from Vietnam, feels.

"I believe it's just Trader Joe's' way of marketing and branding their products," he said. "Personally, myself, I don't take any offense to it."

But John Maciddo, who is Filipino American, said he did not like the branding of the Trader Ming's line.

"On a marketing and economic standpoint, it's a great idea," he said. "But in a very ethical way, it's very BS. It's just bad."

And while Cynthia Koh, who was born and raised in America by her Korean parents, said she was not personally offended, she understood how some people would feel that way.

"When someone pointed out this issue, it is true when I saw Trader Giotto's, it doesn't have the same feeling of exoticism to it," she said. "And it feels more like old world charm instead of, 'Oh, look at this exotic food that we're eating.'"

A number of people have taken to social media to both praise and condemn the retail giant's decision to stay with its original branding.

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