The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter earlier this month to Hampton Creek Foods Inc., saying the labels on two of its products, Just Mayo and Just Mayo Sriracha, make false nutrient content claims. After pointing out the company’s “cholesterol free” claim does not meet legal requirements, the agency noted that “according to the standard of identity for mayonnaise, egg is a required ingredient.”

The products also contain other ingredients not permitted by the standard, the FDA stated, including modified food starch, pea protein, and beta-carotene (to impart simulated egg yolk color).

Worst of all, Hampton Creek “prominently” features an image of an egg on its mayo product labels, the FDA noted. This, the agency implied, screams deception.

No Egg, No Mayo

Getting cozy, the FDA noted, "mayo" has long been used as slang for mayonnaise, so using this term along with the image of an egg may be misleading. The company, which must respond to the agency by Thursday, had not posted information regarding the government warning on its website or Twitter feed as of the publication time of this article.

Meanwhile, vegan fans of Just Mayo might be wondering, Is this warning letter an indication of some general trend happening at the FDA? Could FDA, which has been criticized (frequently) for its acceptance of genetically-engineered food products, be anti-vegan and more generally anti-natural?

You Decide

In three recent actions, the agency has issued decrees or warnings against one tofu and sprout manufacturer and distributor; one manufacturer of frozen organic bagels; and one growing, processing, and packaging facility of soybean and mung bean sprouts.

In the first case, the FDA’s decree requires Henh Wong Fresh Produce, a tofu and sprout manufacturer based in California, to hire a sanitation expert and implement a sanitation control and food safety plan before it may resume operations. Investigators who inspected the facility “multiple times” found insect and rodent filth, insanitary employee practices, and improperly cleaned equipment.

In the second case, FDA’s warning letter to Bageladies, LLC of Virginia, notes some of its Bake'mmm Bagel labels do not meet the legal requirements for nutrient content, including a claim of “60 percent fewer sugars.”

Finally, in the third case, FDA warned Good Seed Inc., a Virginia-based growing, processing, and packaging facility of soybean and mung bean sprouts, following an inspection that discovered Listeria monocytogenes, a potentially deadly germ, in the facility. According to the FDA, this demonstrates “the sanitation efforts are inadequate… to prevent contamination of food.”

Most of us, whether we eat vegan/organic or not, would find the FDA justified in its actions toward these three companies. Apparently, the job of a federal agent isn't always pretty.