Just Mayo said to have broken US labelling rules

Just Mayo said to have broken US labelling rules

Just Mayo, the US egg-free mayonnaise brand, is breaking the country's labelling rules due to the absence of egg in the product, the US Food and Drug Administration has said.

In a letter to Hampton Creek, the owner of the brand, the FDA said the Just Mayo and Just Mayo Sriracha products are "misbranded" as they "purport to be the standardised food mayonnaise" but do not meet ingredient regulations.

"According to the labels for these products, neither product contains eggs. Additionally, the products contain additional ingredients that are not permitted by the standard of identity for mayonnaise, such as modified food starch," the FDA wrote. "The name Just Mayo and an image of an egg are prominently featured on the labels for these products. The term mayo has long been used and understood as shorthand or slang for mayonnaise. The use of the term mayo in the product names and the image of an egg may be misleading to consumers because it may lead them to believe that the products are the standardised food, mayonnaise, which must contain eggs."

The letter, addressed to Hampton Creek co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick and dated 12 August, also takes issue with nutrient claims made on packaging labels and a health claim made on www.hamptoncreek.com.

Hampton Creek has to set out how it will "correct the current violations and prevent their recurrence" within 15 working days, the FDA said.

The company had not returned a request for comment at the time of publication.

When contacted by just-food, the FDA reiterated the deadline for Hampton Creek to respond and said it "can't speculate about what might happen next".

The FDA said the action had been sparked by a complaint, although it did not disclose in its correspondence with just-food nor in the letter to Hampton Creek the identity of the complainant.

Last December, Unilever withdrew a lawsuit against Hampton Creek in which it accused the US company of deceiving consumers with Just Mayo.

"Unilever has decided to withdraw its lawsuit against Hampton Creek so that Hampton Creek can address its label directly with industry groups and appropriate regulatory authorities," Mike Faherty, vice president for foods at Unilever North America, said at the time. "We applaud Hampton Creek's commitment to innovation and its inspired corporate purpose. We share a vision with Hampton Creek of a more sustainable world. It is for these reasons that we believe Hampton Creek will take the appropriate steps in labelling its products going forward."

Asked for a reaction to the FDA's letter, a spokesperson for Unilever said yesterday: "We are going to decline the opportunity to comment."