Hampton Creek has been issued a warning letter by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for allegedly misbranding some of its products due to its contents.

“The use of the term ‘mayo’ in the product names and the image of an egg may be misleading to consumers because it may lead them to believe that the products are the standardized food, mayonnaise,” writes FDA in the warning letter that was issued on August 12.

According to FDA, their products, “Just Mayo” and “Just Mayo Sriracha,” do not meet the definition of mayonnaise because they do not contain eggs and contain modified food starch, an ingredient not permitted by the definition of mayonnaise.

“We feel very confident about our name and even more confident about what we are doing as a company and the impact we are having,” Josh Tetrick, CEO of Hampton Creek told WholeFoods Magazine. “We are not changing the name. We feel really good about where we are in terms of the law—the policies, the ethics of it.”

FDA also states in the letter that the products cannot be labeled as “cholesterol-free,” claiming that the food contains too much fat. Both Just Mayo products contain more than 13 grams of total fat per 50 grams.

"We had a good call with the FDA yesterday (August, 25)," says Tetrick. "They get the import of what we're doing -- and why it matters to our food system. This is larger than a conversation about mayo, as innovation -- especially when it has a positive impact -- is important to them. We'll sit down with the FDA shortly, and are excited to talk with them about our approach." 

Last year, a fellow mayonnaise producer, Unilever, the maker of Hellmann’s mayo, sued Hampton Creek for the same reason: for misleading customers. They eventually withdrew their lawsuit.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2015, (online 8/26/15)