FDA Tells Hampton Creek It's Just NOT Mayo

Aug. 26, 2015
Agency warns of standard of identity issue, minor health claims violations.

The FDA earlier this month sent a warning letter to Hampton Creek Foods Inc. that it can no longer use the term "mayo" or the image of an egg for its egg-free Just Mayo spreads.

Josh Tetrick, the high-profile CEO of the company, told Inc.com, “There’s no reason for us to rename the product.” However, he also admitted his company is in talks with the FDA and he's "hopeful" the agency will change its mind.

The FDA essentially agreed with a lawsuit filed late last year by Unilever Plc, maker of Hellmann's mayonnaise, that calling the product "mayo" clearly identified it with mayonnaise, and mayonnaise by standard of identity regulation must include eggs. However Unilever, which garnered at least some bad press for bullying, withdrew the suit and said it hoped the FDA would enforce the standard of identity.

The federal agency also noted some other violations in the current Just Mayo label and website, including:

  • A "cholesterol-free" label claim that does not include a nearby listing of total fat, which is 10g of fat in a 14g serving.
  • References on the website connecting a lack of cholesterol to heart health – which is not allowed because of the high level of fat in Just Mayo.

Just Mayo is just the tip of this company's iceberg. Hampton Creek calls itself "a technology company pioneering in food" that has "built a unique technology platform to enable the production of healthier food at a lower cost, starting with the safe and sustainable option of the conventional chicken egg." According to the company website, "The mission of Hampton Creek is to bring healthier and affordable food to everyone, everywhere."

Tetrick, who is reported to be a vegetarian, claims his company can create animal-free equivalents of just about any food product. And he has raised millions of dollars in venture capital funding to evolve the company and make it global.

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