Trade Grouping Egged on FDA to Act Against Vegan Mayo

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 10:13 PM

The Organization for Dressings and Sauces, which was founded in one thousand nine hundred twenty-sixth, repeatedly urged federal regulators latest year to get action against an upstart vegan spread that it said was masquerading as mayonnaise, despite its lack of eggs, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.

Mayonnaise impostors, beware! An industry grouping is patrolling the grocery aisles.

The Organization for Dressings and Sauces, which was founded in one thousand nine hundred twenty-sixth, repeatedly urged federal regulators latest year to get action against an upstart vegan spread that it said was masquerading as mayonnaise, despite its lack of eggs, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.

The Food and Drug Administration later sent a public warning to Hampton Creek about its "Just Mayo" spread, which triggered national headlines and ultimately led to the San Francisco startup and media darling tweaking its label.

The efforts allow a glimpse into the influence industry groups can possess behind the scenes, even if their names may be challenging to get seriously. The American Pizza Community, for instance, represents the interests of companies love Domino'south and Godfather'south Pizza. The National Confectioners Organization promotes candy'south fun, carefree image on behalf of members like Hershey.

On its website, the Organization for Dressings and Sauces says it's a 16-member board and a Horseradish Information Council. The grouping doesn't list a physical address and is managed by the Kellen Company, a firm that manages industry associations.

According to emails obtained through a freedom of information request, the organization first reached out to the FDA just months before a high-profile spat erupted between one of its members, a heavyweight mayonnaise maker, and Hampton Creek.

Unilever, the parent company of Hellmann'south mayonnaise, had sued Hampton Creek in late two thousand fourteen for misleading advertising, saying Just Mayo wasn't really mayonnaise since it doesn't have eggs.

After facing a backlash by Just Mayo supporters, Unilever dropped the suit.

A couple months later, the Organization for Dressings and Sauces contacted the FDA to chase up on its previously expressed concern that Just Mayo was violating the federal standard for mayonnaise. The FDA had already contacted Hampton Creek after the group'south previous complaint, but said it couldn't provide details.

In a statement, the Organization for Dressings and Sauces said one of its goals is to uphold federal standards in the dressings and sauces industry, which were established to defend consumers. It said it monitors product labels for accuracy as portion of its goals.

A Unilever representative declined to comment. A representative for the FDA said the agency had nothing to add.

After Unilever dropped its lawsuit, emails indicate the organization persisted in its campaign to bring law and order to the condiments aisle and contacted the FDA at minimum three more times.

Then in August, the FDA made its issues with Hampton Creek public in a warning letter to the company.

Showing its own backroom muscle, Hampton Creek retained a lawyer who previously worked at the FDA who helped resolve the matter. Just Mayo'south label was adjusted to create clear it doesn't have eggs. But it got to hold its name, and may have even gained a fan.

"After listening to your story, I may just up your sales by one jar during my following Costco visit and give your mayo alternative a test drive," an FDA official wrote to the company.

In a statement, Hampton Creek said its resolution with the FDA reaffirmed its trust that government and private sector can work together.

And in February, Unilever introduced its own eggless spread below the Hellmann'south banner, and gave it an appropriate name: "Carefully Crafted Dressing and Sandwich Spread."

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Chase Candice Choi at www. twitter. com/candicechoi

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