FDA cites “Just Mayo” products for non-compliance with the standard of identity for mayonnaise, among other issues.

  • Startup company Hampton Creek previously has faced criticism and legal challenges related to its decision to market an eggless mayonnaise substitute under the name, “Just Mayo.”  Critics have argued that the labeling and marketing are likely to result in consumers believing the product is standard “mayonnaise” despite its failure to comply with FDA’s standard of identity for such food.
  • On August 12, 2015, FDA issued a Warning Letter to Hampton Creek, alleging that the “Just Mayo” product lines are misbranded under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because they are represented as standardized mayonnaise even though they fail to comply with the applicable standard.  Specifically, the products lack a requisite ingredient for mayonnaise — eggs — and contain ingredients not permitted by the standard of identity, such as modified food starch, pea protein, and beta-carotene.  In the Warning Letter, FDA also alleges that Hampton Creek makes unauthorized and misleading claims about the “cholesterol-free” and heart-healthy characteristics of its products.
  • Particularly in light of the previous challenges to Hampton Creek in this area, FDA’s Warning Letter is likely to generate significant publicity and could serve as the trigger for new consumer class action lawsuits premised on the company’s allegedly deceptive marketing claims.  FDA’s action in this case serves as a reminder of the Agency’s authority to enforce standards of identity for foods and of its power to publicize issues of interest of plaintiffs’ lawyers nationwide.