Mayonnaise is classically made from a combination of oil, egg yolks and an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice.
A San Francisco company is in a bit of trouble for its product Just Mayo, which does not meet the Food and Drug Administration’s parameters for mayonnaise.
The products also contain ingredients such as modified food starch, which doesn’t technically belong in mayonnaise, the FDA said.
The problem, in other words, is not that Hampton Creek Foods is offering an alternative to traditional mayonnaise but that it is marketing it as indiscernible from the conventional option.
“The term “mayo” has always been used and understood as shorthand or slang for mayonnaise”, it said in the letter to Hampton Creek, the maker of Just Mayo.
“It’s one thing to enjoy some of the halo for mayonnaise, but it’s another to dupe consumers”, said Parke Wilde, an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “I can definitely see how it’s a bit misleading”.
Past year he defended his product’s name and branding, insisting that the goal was to reach a broad audience.
Hampton Creek has had success in that area, striking deals with a range of huge retailers, including Costco.
There are concerns that the Just Mayo, which is vegan-friendly and eggless spread with a major share of the mayonnaise’s market, might be a result of misbranding. The suit follwed Procter & Gamble Co. suing Hello Products, charging that its toothpaste’s “99% Natural” claim was misleading given a batch of ingredients that were chemically processed, and Nestle suing Blue Buffalo for saying some of its products have no animal by-products or grain. The company planned to introduce the product to Walmart and Target customers as well this fall.
The company behind Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Best Foods mayonnaise, Unilever, filed a lawsuit against Hampton Creek last December for false advertising and fraud.
The letter also takes issue with Hampton Creek’s claim made on the packaging that JustMayo is cholesterol-free, as well as the phrase “You’ll never find cholesterol in our products” that’s featured on its website.
If Hampton Creek can’t win its fight against the FDA, it should embrace its differences and call its product something that gets the point across in an inviting way.