Twenty Hampton Creek products, including its popular eggless mayonnaise, Just Mayo, will no longer be available at Target stores “pending review” over alleged safety issues.
Target is Hampton Creek’s largest customer, but the 1,800-location chain says it has begun pulling Hampton Creek’s products over concerns of potential health risks recently brought to its attention.
According to Bloomberg, Target received information about Hampton Creek products being adulterated and potentially coming into contact with pathogens detected at a manufacturing facility. Bloomberg notes the chain was warned of potential salmonella and listeria in the products, although there have been no reports of any customers falling ill. Target says it has notified the FDA of the issues. The agency says it's monitoring the situation. Hampton Creek recalled its cake and muffin mixes from Walmart stores last year after an ingredient tested positive for salmonella.
In a statement released by the company, Hampton Creek refuted the allegations, saying all products comply with FDA regulations.
“The allegations that our products are mislabeled and unsafe are false,” Hampton Creek said in a statement. “We have robust food safety standards, and as such, we remain confident about the safety of all products we sell and distribute. We look forward to working with Target and the FDA to bring this to a quick resolution.”
Target also reports that Hampton Creek products may be mislabeled as non-GMO, when they may contain genetically modified ingredients, a claim the company said is false, and that its supplier documentation proves otherwise.
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One product, the Just Sweet Mustard salad dressing, did not include honey on its label, despite it being an ingredient in the dressing. Hampton Creek is a brand popular with vegans, who avoid products containing honey, but according to an email from Hampton Creek', that label "complies with all FDA labeling requirements."
According to Bloomberg, the relationship with Target brings Hampton Creek $5.5 million per year – about one-third of the company’s revenues. That loss, coupled with the recent lackluster fundraising round could be disastrous for the chain. But Hampton Creek says it's determined to get back on Target shelves, and has loyal customer support in the process, including a petition.
Hampton Creek notes that customers have taken to social media, even launched a petition, encouraging Target to restock the products. But as of press time, even the Target website had removed all Hampton Creek products.
The northern Calif., startup has been hit with controversy in recent years. Most recently it fired several key executives over failure to meet fundraising goals. It was also under investigation over buybacks of its Just Mayo off store shelves to boost sales. There were claims of sexual misconduct by founder and CEO, Josh Tetrick, as well as claims that employee contracts were altered without employee consent after they’d been hired.
This article was updated on June 27th to include quotes from a Hampton Creek representative.
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