If you want to market and label a product as mayo, you better be sure it contains eggs or you might find yourself in hot water with the Food and Drug Administration.
That’s what happened to Hampton Creek, the maker of Just Mayo, a plant-based vegan spread. The company recently received a letter from the FDA warning it that it’s violating federal law by misbranding its eggless spread as mayo, The New York Times reports.
“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 standardized food, mayonnaise,” the FDA wrote in an Aug. 12 letter to Hampton Creek.
According to the federal standards of identity, mayonnaise must 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,” the letter said. “Therefore, these products do not conform to the standard for mayonnaise.”
Just Mayo is sold in stores like Target and Whole Foods, according to CNN Money.
“We don’t plan on changing the name,” said Hampton Creek founder and chief executive Josh Tetrick.
He added that he’s been in touch with the FDA, and he’s looking forward to working with the agency to find a solution.
“I feel very good about the thoughtful and honest response we’ll give back,” Tetrick said.
Unilever, maker of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, sued Hampton Creek in 2014 for false advertising but ultimately dropped the suit, the Times said.
The issue at hand is not that the company is providing an eggless mayonnaise alternative, but that it’s marketing it as mayo, The Washington Post said.
“It’s one thing to enjoy some of the halo for mayonnaise, but it’s another to dupe consumers,” said Parke Wilde, who is an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “I think they’re probably a little over that line with ‘Just Mayo.’ I can definitely see how it’s a bit misleading.”
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