fda just mayo
According to media reports Thursday, the maker of Just Mayo, a vegan alternative to traditional mayonnaise, will keep the name but change its label after settling a dispute with federal regulators that highlighted the confusion being stirred up by fast-changing consumer food preferences.
The agreement between Hampton Creek Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration ends a long labeling battle that began over a year ago, when industry giant Unilever PLC, which makes Hellmann’s mayonnaise, filed a lawsuit against Hampton Creek for false advertising.
As reported by Food Dive, Unilever argued Just Mayo shouldn’t use the abbreviation for mayonnaise since its product doesn’t contain eggs, which FDA rules state must be an ingredient for a spread to be called mayonnaise.
The egg industry has been clearly shaken by its success. Unilever filed a suit against Hampton Creek, but one year ago today it withdrew the suitafter facing a public backlash. In September, emails exposed through a Freedom of Information Act Request showed that the company was being targeted by the American Egg Board, a research and promotion office that operates under the control of the US Department of Agriculture. The Board unsuccessfully tried to have Just Mayo removed from Whole Foods shelves and was encouraged by a USDA employee to report the label to the FDA.
Hampton Creek, a California startup founded in 2011 with prominent investors including Bill Gates, has argued that its product is healthier and better for the environment. While Just Mayo is egg-free, Hampton Creek Chief Executive Josh Tetrick also emphasized that it doesn’t use the term “mayonnaise,” only “mayo.”
“We have to be able to convey what our product is to consumers and connect it back to the food they know, and we can’t do that without the ‘Mayo’ name,” Mr. Tetrick said in an interview Thursday.
The USDA has said the investigation is ongoing.
Josh Tetrick, CEO of Hampton Creek, said the company was able to find common ground with the FDA over its label after explaining its goal of trying to improve the food system.
Hampton Creek had enlisted the help of Stuart Pape, a former attorney with the FDA based in Washington, D.C., who now advises clients on labelling and regulatory issues at the law firm Polsinelli.