Saturday, July 08, 2017 by Amy Goodrich
Retailers pulling products from their shelves is often the direct result of a confirmed contamination or people getting sick. So, it seems odd that, though no complaints have been filed, Target just removed all of Hampton Creek Inc.’s non-GMO, plant-based products from its stores and website.
Since Target is responsible for one-third of Hampton Creek’s product sales, the company could be in real trouble. Another major blow for the popular food startup.
A few years ago, Hampton Creek became famous for its egg-free Just Mayo. The plant-based, GMO-free Just-line products took the vegan food world by storm and remain widely popular today. Valued at more than $1 billion, the company’s products are sold in over 20,000 locations, including universities, stadiums, schools, and hospitals.
Given their success and the higher demand for clean, GMO-free foods, the company has been under serious attack. Recently, the firm had to fire three executives for sabotaging the company’s green mission to provide healthy foods to the people. Now, one of its biggest retail partners, Target, has pulled all products from its shelves based on false accusations. Target sells 20 Hampton Creek products, including Just Mayo, Just Dressings, Just Cookie Dough, and Just Cookies.
Given the fact that nobody filled a complaint, nor did the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiate a mandatory recall, the whole situation seems a bit fishy. Furthermore, don’t you think it is a little strange that Target is the only major retailer to recall the products based on mystery allegations only they received?
A Target spokeswoman, who wants to remain anonymous, told Bloomberg that the company was notified about violations of food safety standards as well as accusations of manipulation and adulteration of the products. Though she didn’t mention the source of the information, the woman said that they found certain pathogens at one of the manufacturing facilities used by Hampton Creek. She also added that certain products had tested positive for listeria and salmonella.
Though Hampton Creek noted that all their products are GMO-free and comply with the labeling regulations, other allegations involve mislabeling of some non-GMO products. Lastly, Target accused Hampton Creek of using honey, which is not listed on the label, in the Just Sweet Mustard salad dressing.
Based on these mystery claims, Target made the decision to pull Hampton Creek’s products from its shelves through a voluntary market withdrawal. The retailer also said that it had informed the FDA of the unconfirmed complaints.
“The allegations that our products are mislabeled and unsafe are false,” San Francisco-based Hampton Creek told Fortune. “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.”
In the past, Unilever sued Hampton Creek for false advertising. According to them, Just Mayo couldn’t be considered mayonnaise because it does not contain eggs. Unilever lost the case and launched a rival product shortly after. Furthermore, the firm has also been targeted by inappropriate ads from the American Egg Board who were hoping to put Just Mayo in a bad light.
Could this be another clever move by the egg or dairy industry to destroy a company that is promoting health? Though the FDA is monitoring the situation, they are not acting in any way. Also, why were the allegations only sent to Target? If there are serious health or labeling threads you would expect that the FDA would interfere and retract the products from the market. Nonetheless, Just Mayo and other Hampton Creek products remain available in every other store.