What's in the Name? It's Not Mayonnaise without Eggs!
Shivangana Vasudeva, NDTV | Updated: July 14, 2017 13:30 IST
A recent warning letter issued by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) in the United States to a food company has ignited a fresh debate regarding misleading labels and product nomenclature. It turns out that ‘Just Mayo’ manufactured Hampton Creek Foods Inc may not be mayo, after all. At least if the FDA is to be believed.
A four-year-old food startup based in San Francisco, Hampton Creek Foods is best known for its vegan-friendly, egg-less spread which is made with canola oil, apple cider vinegar, pea protein, and other ingredients. No eggs? Not mayo, says the FDA.
According to the regulatory agency, the product violates the ‘standard of identity’ for the popular condiment in which egg is a required ingredient. Moreover, it contains additional ingredients like modified food starch, pea protein, and beta-carotene which do not belong in mayonnaise. It has ordered the company to no longer refer to its vegan sandwich spread as mayonnaise and respond with 15 business days of receiving the letter.
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Just Mayo is available in a variety of flavours such as chipotle, garlic and Sriracha. The label mentions that it is eggless and implies that the product is cholesterol free and heart friendly. It features an egg with a plant growing in front to show that they used plants in place of eggs. Besides the name and misleading imagery used on the label, the FDA blamed the company for too much fat in the products to qualify as healthy. The FDA requires that a product calling itself ‘mayonnaise’ must have at least 65% vegetable oil along with one or more ingredients that contain egg yolk. The company uses a byproduct of a Canadian yellow pea as a substitute for eggs. The problem is not that they’re offering an alternative but that it is duping the consumers by claiming something which it isn’t, states the FDA.(Toss Up a Salad: 7 Delicious Dressings You Can Choose From)
For the last several years, the egg industry has been worried about Hampton Creek eating up their market share which has also dented sales of the ‘real’ mayonnaise manufactured by other companies. This is not the first time they have had to face the music. Last year, the company was sued by Unilever, the makers of the maker of Hellmann's mayonnaise, on the same grounds. Less than a month later, they dropped the lawsuit after facing backlash by Just Mayo supporters.
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Given India’s significant vegetarian population, eggless mayonnaise captures a bulk of the market share. If numbers are anything to go by, estimates place eggless mayonnaise sales at 80% of the overall mayonnaise volumes in the country. Since our laws on labelling still seem to be evolving we’ll have to wait and watch if we’d face similar scrutiny at some point.
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