Sometimes having a little sister who is a lawyer is prettttty sweet. Amanda and I are both big fans of Just Mayo, and when she sent me the story about the FDA coming down on Hampton Creek over the definition of mayo, we both felt like it was total BS.
Instead of just complaining, though, we decided to do something about it. Amanda and fellow lawyer Heidi Mehaffey looked at case law and put together a kickass Just Mayo petition on Change.org. They even bounced this thing off of the folks at Hampton Creek and have their blessing.
You can read the text of the petition in full below, or just head over the Change.org and sign if you think it’s crazy that the definition of mayo has to include egg.
Below is the full petition text, written by my sister and Heidi. They use lots of legal talk, because they’re lawyers, but the gist is that FDA is holding Hampton Creek to standards that they’re not using uniformly.
On August 5, 2015, Hampton Creek was named a Technological Pioneer by the World Economic Forum in Geneva Switzerland. This honor has previously been bestowed upon other game changers like Google, Wikimedia, Kickstarter, and Dropbox. Hampton Creek has made a dynamic impact in the food market, and in 2015 alone it saved 1.5 billion gallons of water, avoided 11.8 billion milligrams of sodium, and avoided 2.8 billion milligrams of cholesterol.
Hampton Creek’s driving purpose is to provide food products to the general public that are “better for your taste buds, better for the planet, and better for your wallet.” The company has a variety of products that are not only free of common allergens, such as eggs, dairy, and tree nuts, but are healthier alternatives directed at reducing food-related health issues such as diabetes and obesity.
Hampton Creek is trying to make a difference in the way our nation’s food market, however instead of receiving the support of our government, it has found itself under attack on account of it’s product “Just Mayo.”
On October 31, 2014, Unilever, the maker of Hellman’s Mayonnaise, filed suit in United States District Court in New Jersey against Hampton Creek, Inc. The complaint alleges that Hampton Creek was in violation of federal and state law for false advertising and unfair competition for using the term “Mayo.”
Title 21 C.F.R. Section 169 lays out the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of Mayonnaise. Yes, there is a federal law defining what can go into your mayo. This rule establishes:
(a) Description. Mayonnaise is the emulsified semisolid food prepared from vegetable oil(s), one or both of the acidifying ingredients specified in paragraph (b) of this section, and one or more of the egg yolk-containing ingredients specified in paragraph (c) of this section. One or more of the ingredients specified in paragraph (d) of this section may also be used. The vegetable oil(s) used may contain an optional crystallization inhibitor as specified in paragraph (d)(7) of this section. All the ingredients from which the food is fabricated shall be safe and suitable. Mayonnaise contains not less than 65 percent by weight of vegetable oil. Mayonnaise may be mixed and packed in an atmosphere in which air is replaced in whole or in part by carbon dioxide or nitrogen.
Title 21 C.F.R. 169.140.
The claim by Unilever alleged, in part, that because Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo does not contain egg, they are in violation of this law and the F.D.A. must put a stop to the sale of the product under the name “mayo”. Unilever received negative feedback in the press after filing of the suit, and has since seemingly dropped the lawsuit. However, this action triggered an enforcement action by the Food and Drug Administration. The F.D.A. and Hampton Creek’s CEO are currently in talks regarding this action, but the potential outcome could threaten one of the most vital parts of the Just Mayo brand: it’s name.
The F.D.A., unsurprisingly, has not pursued Unilever for any of its mayo products that are not within the guidelines of the mayo definition. Specifically, canola oil and olive oil are not “vegetable oils” but this seems to evade F.D.A. review. The focus of the F.D.A.’s inquiry should be whether the existence of an alternative to eggs makes this product not “safe and suitable” as required by the rule, rather than any pushback from the egg lobby, and their concerns about decreasing demand. Allergen alternatives have had a long history of not only opening up food products to a new genre of consumers, but also offering healthier options that give consumers more choice. This choice in favor of the consumer should in no way be considered “false advertising,” as the ingredients are clearly displayed on each product, nor does it create “unfair competition” by increasing the variety of products available.
Join us today as we tell the F.D.A. to stop their pursuit of a company that is revolutionizing the food industry, and stop pandering to companies who only cater to the status quo. The answer should not be stripping a phenomenal product of its identity, but rather changing the definition of “mayonnaise” to include “vegetable based egg-substitutes.” Together, let’s be the voice that makes a difference.
Submitted by Amanda Levine and Heidi Mehaffey, South Florida
Tell the FDA to stop singling out Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo