Hampton Creek's 'Just Mayo' just can't be called mayo, says FDA

Just Mayo Hampton Creek Josh TetrickEric Risberg/AP ImagesCEO Josh Tetrick holds a species of yellow pea used to make Just Mayo, a plant-based mayonnaise, at Hampton Creek Foods in San Francisco.

The eggless mayo startup, Hampton Creek, needs to drop all claims of making mayonnaise, according to a letter from the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

The startup has created a line of “Just Mayo” products that are eggless and made out of plants instead.

However, the FDA’s letter issued August 12 and posted online today warns the startup that it cannot label its Just Mayo and Just Mayo Sriracha products as mayonnaise because they do not contain eggs.

“Additionally, the use of the term ‘Just’ together with ‘Mayo’ reinforces the impression that the products are real mayonnaise by suggesting that they are ‘all mayonnaise’ or ‘nothing but’ mayonnaise. However, your Just Mayo and Just Mayo Sriracha do not meet the definition of the standard for mayonnaise,” the letter said.

Other ingredients listed on the Just Mayo label, including the yellow pea protein, modified food starch and beta-carotene, are also not permitted on labels for mayonnaise, the FDA warned.

The FDA also took issue with other claims the startup is making, including that its products are heart healthy.

“While there are authorised health claims about cholesterol and the reduced risk of heart disease, these products do not qualify to make these health claims, in part, due to the amount of fat that they contain,” wrote the FDA.

The company has 15 days to respond to the letter. Hampton Creek did not return request for comment.

An August 2015 story from Business Insider detailed how the startup is also mislabeling lemon juice on its labels and website when it uses a lemon juice concentrate. CEO Josh Tetrick later confirmed that the company had the wrong label, but said it had been fixed in March. Trips to several grocery stores in August, however, showed that the products still being sold on shelves only listed lemon juice and not the concentrate.

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