Just Mayo succeeded in keeping its name after convincing the FDA. However, according to the agreement, the company making the vegan, eggless mayonnaise substitute, must alter the labels of the product.
The maker of Just Mayo, a vegan alternative to traditional mayonnaise, has been allowed to retain the name of the product that many strongly felt was quite misleading. Though the name stays, FDA has mandated that company make multiple changes in the labeling to emphasize the fact that Just Mayo doesn't contain eggs. Previous labeling was apparently pretty misleading, confusing buyers about the recipe of mayonnaise offered by the company. Mayonnaise has always been made with eggs, which are still considered as the primary ingredient that makes mayonnaise... well, mayonnaise.
The maker of Just Mayo managed to settle a dispute that had been going on for a year. The dispute with federal regulators highlighted the confusion being stirred up by fast-changing consumer food preferences, reported The Wall Street Journal.
The agreement between Hampton Creek Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration wraps up a yearlong legal dispute that was initiated by Unilever PLC. The industry giant, which makes Hellmann's mayonnaise, had filed a lawsuit against Hampton Creek. Unilever had alleged that Just Mayo, as a product, is engaging in false advertising. The company argued that the brand cannot contain a commonly acknowledged and widely used abbreviation for mayonnaise. Interestingly, after a public backlash from supporters of Hampton Creek, Unilever decided to drop the lawsuit, but the ball was already in motion.
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The attempt to stop Just Mayo's sales raised regulatory issues, as the parent company had reservations against the American Egg Board, reported CNBC. Apparently, records indicate that the board's CEO, Joanne Ivy, had attempted to stop the sale of Just Mayo at Whole Foods. As the board is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), any hindrance to sale of products had to become a regulatory issue. Subsequent to Ivy's early retirement, the USDA initiated an investigation into the egg board for suspected anomalies.
At the heart of the case was a legal notation about mayonnaise. According to the FDA, mayonnaise is a standardized food. This simply means that the mayonnaise must include eggs as one of the primary ingredients. A letter from the FDA noted that Just Mayo "contains ingredients that are not permitted by the standard of identity for mayonnaise."
Hampton Creek had retained Stuart Pape, a former attorney with the FDA based in Washington, D.C. Pape specializes in labeling and regulatory issues at the law firm Polsinelli and was able to negotiate a deal with the FDA that allowed retention of the brand's name by altering the labeling. Pape even confirmed that no ingredients in Just Mayo are being altered.
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According to the agreement, a new Just Mayo label will be designed that will have to include a definition of the word "just" on the front of the product, which will be accompanied by the literal definition of the word, which reads: "Guided by reason, justice, and fairness." Additionally, the label will need to have more context on the edge of the label, reported CNN.
Additionally, the most important aspect of the label, the Just Mayo logo, which is essentially an image of a white egg with a pea shoot growing inside, will remain. However, the impact of the logo will be reduced by reducing its size. Since Just Mayo doesn't contain eggs, the words "Egg Free" will have to be bigger and featured a little higher up for ease of identification. Since mayonnaise is standardized and Just Mayo doesn't strictly adhere to the traditional recipe, the broader product category "Spread and Dressing" will now have to be printed in larger and all-capital letters.
Just Mayo bottles, with the labels that are in accordance to the agreement with the FDA, will start appearing on shelves within two months, confirmed the company.
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