Unilever, parent company of Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise, eventually dropped its 2014 lawsuit against Hampton Creek over claims that the San Francisco-based startup’s vegan Just Mayo product did not meet the definition of mayonnaise because it did not include eggs. While Hampton Creek may have appeared victorious, it hasn’t stopped the FDA from chiming in, and the agency says that without eggs it’s not mayo, and Hampton Creek cannot market it as such.
“According to the standard of identity for mayonnaise, egg is a required ingredient,” said a letter from the FDA, which was sent earlier this month to Hampton Creek and released Tuesday. “[H]owever, based on the ingredient information on the labels, these products do not contain eggs. We also note that these products contain additional ingredients that are not permitted by the standard, such as modified food starch, pea protein, and beta-carotene, which may be used to impart color simulating egg yolk. Therefore, these products do not conform to the standard for mayonnaise.”
FDA guidelines on mayonnaise require that the product be at least 65 percent vegetable oil and contain at least one egg yolk ingredient. Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo products use yellow pea protein instead of eggs. The FDA also pointed to claims by Hampton Creek on cholesterol. The company’s website states, “You’ll never find cholesterol in our products,” which the FDA says is an “unauthorized” cholesterol-free claim.
In November 2014, Unilever filed a lawsuit against Hampton Creek over the lack of eggs in the company’s products, but then dropped the suit less than a month later. In a statement, a Hellmann’s spokesperson said, “We believe Hampton Creek will take the appropriate steps in labeling its products going forward.”
Organic Authority’s sister site EcoSalon recently profiled Hampton Creek and allegations that the company misled its investors, some of whom include Silicon Valley leaders Bill Gates, Peter Theil, and Vinod Khosla.
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