Due to unconfirmed and mysterious food safety concerns, Target just pulled all twenty Hampton Creek products — including Just Mayo, Just Mustard, and Just Cookie Dough — off its populated shelves.
“The decision to remove Hampton Creek products was made by Target. At this time we don’t have any information to share,” an FDA spokesman said Friday afternoon, as reported by Food Safety News (FSN). Target’s statement was just as ambiguous, explaining to FSN that they decided to pull the products “pending a full review.”
So what’s the possible reason the plant-based company has gone extinct at the iconic discount store?
“The Target spokeswoman said the company received allegations of food safety concerns as well as accusations of manipulation and adulteration of Hampton Creek’s products,” Bloomberg reported. In non-corporate speak? There were allegations of products testing positive for listeria and salmonella as well as other allegations that Hampton Creek said their products were non-GMO when they weren’t. One odd claim was that Hampton Creek’s Just Sweet Mustard salad dressing contains honey and it doesn’t list it as an ingredient on the label.
Here’s the thing, though. Not only have none of these claims been confirmed, but Hampton Creek is also outright denying all of these allegations. They passed along this official statement to Eat This, Not That!:
"The allegations that our products are mislabeled and unsafe are false. The Sweet Mustard product complies with all FDA labeling requirements. Our Non-GMO product claims are supported by ingredient supplier documentation. We are confident that our Non-GMO products are properly labeled. We have robust food safety standards, and as such, we remain confident about the safety of all products we sell and distribute. We look forward to working with Target and the FDA to bring this to a quick resolution."
While some people believe Target is trying to be extra cautious in regards to food safety concerns, others believe there’s something more devious going on.
— RadikahlVegan Ⓥ 🏴 (@RadikahlVegan) June 24, 2017
Wow don't ever cross Big Mayo https://t.co/SDRrcwShaB
— Joshua Topolsky (@joshuatopolsky) June 22, 2017
To trigger your memory: Unilever — the parent company of the #1-selling mayo in America, Hellman’s or Best Foods — sued Hampton Creek in 2014 for false advertising since their vegan mayo didn’t have eggs in it. (And thus, shouldn’t legally be allowed to be branded as mayo.) Following backlash, Unilever ended up dropping the lawsuit. And it sounds like some people on Twitter are suggesting that the battle between corporate mayo and new-to-the-scene Hampton Creek isn't done yet.
While we can’t be sure of the sources of the rumors, one thing we know for sure is that Hampton Creek is standing by the current safety of their products.
The company’s food safety consultant, Cliff Coles, explained in a letter that Hampton Creek “[provides] the safest possible products to the retail markets” by utilizing the product hold-and-release program, which requires “food safety analyses to be completed before allowing product into distribution.”
Since Target is one of the largest distributors of Hampton Creek, if you’re in desperate need of some more mayo for your summer pasta salads, you might have to stick to purchasing Hampton Creek’s sustainable, vegan foods on Amazon.com or other major retailers like Walmart, Safeway, Whole Foods, Kroger, and Publix as we wait to see how this story plays out.