Eggless product had been sandwiched between regulations protecting Hellman’s & Best Foods
The Just Mayo mayonnaise substitute may just keep spreading in sales and popularity with people who slather things on their bread and buns, now that even the U.S. Food & Drug Administration understands that the makers of the eggless vegan product are not trying to make anyone believe it contains eggs.
Just Mayo manufacturer Hampton Creek on December 17, 2015 announced a settlement with the FDA which in effect rescinds an August 2015 FDA ruling that the Just Mayo name and logo might confuse consumers.
Explained Stephanie Strom of The New York Times, “Federal standards require that any product called mayonnaise contain eggs, which neither Just Mayo nor Just Mayo Sriracha, a derivative product, do. The FDA, which oversees food labeling, had warned Hampton Creek that the name Just Mayo and the product’s logo, an egg ‘cracked’ by a young pea plant, might mislead consumers into thinking that the product contained actual eggs.”
Just Mayo is in actuality made mainly from pea protein and food starch.
Hellman’s & Best Foods
Unilever, maker of both the Hellman’s and Best Foods mayonnaise brands, sued Hampton Creek in 2014 for allegedly using misleading advertising, but dropped the lawsuit weeks later amid a flurry of publicity that appeared to help the Just Mayo fight for market share.
The FDA several months later raised similar allegations, backed by regulatory authority instead of the need to persuade a judge and jury.
Veal brain glaze
“That raised the possibility that Hampton Creek’s branding might have to change,” wrote Strom. This was potentially a knife in the ribs to the biggest challenge to the mayonnaise industry since it emerged in Europe circa 1800 to take market share from mustard.
The basic recipe for conventional mayonnaise has evolved considerably since then, undercutting the Unilever and FDA contentions that “mayonnaise” and “mayo” have specific definitions. Most versions include both eggs and an oil, as well as other flavoring ingredients, but some early ingredients, including veal brain glaze, long ago fell out of favor.
Under the settlement with the FDA, Hampton Creek “will use bigger type on the front of the label for the list of product attributes like ‘egg-free,’” reported Strom. “And, the label will define the word ‘just’ in the brand name to mean ‘guided by reason, justice and fairness’ instead of suggesting that it was an exact replica of mayonnaise.”
Elaborated Associated Press, “The changes include making the words ‘egg-free’ larger and adding ‘Spread & Dressing.’ An image of an egg with a pea shoot inside will also be smaller.”
Said Hampton Creek founder and chief executive Josh Tetrick, “This gives us the chance to tell the bigger story about what we’re trying to accomplish with Hampton Creek in terms of changing the food system.”
The new packaging is to debut by February 2016.
What Hampton Creek has done so far, in less than five years since formation in December 2011, is scare the starch out of the food industry establishment, not least because Tetrick has attracted $120 million in venture capital funding from billionaires including Hong Kong plastics baron Li Ka-Shing and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
(See also Smart money bets on bio-cultured meat.)
Knocking ’em dead
Reported Associated Press food industry writer Candace Choi on September 2, 2015, “The American Egg Board waged a campaign to counter the emergence of Just Mayo, and even tried to prevent its sale at Whole Foods grocery stores. Documents provided to Associated Press offer a sometimes comic glimpse into the alarm the egg group felt,” Choi wrote, “including two apparently joking references to killing Tetrick.”
Hampton Creek further frightened animal agribusiness in March 2015, Stromdec reported, when “Foodbuy, which buys some $18 billion of food as the procurement arm of Compass Group, a food services company, began selling Hampton Creek’s Just Cookies, which are made without eggs.”
This appeared to have conventional bakers on the verge of tossing their cookies, especially after Foodbuy also began offering Just Mayo among the products it sells to institutional food providers.