You won't find Hampton Creek products on the shelves at Target anymore, with the retailer pulling its products amid a series of food safety and labeling concerns.
The Silicon Valley-based, vegan-food maker of "Just Mayo" – and a suite of other products from its "Just" line – has been beset with problems, including in April when a leaked email alleged that some of its sustainability claims may be inaccurate.
On Friday, Target – the company's biggest client – told GoMN it is starting a "market withdrawal of Hampton Creek products" pending a "full review," withproducts are being pulled from stores and Target.com.
Concerns the company has about the Hampton Creek, as detailed by Bloomberg, are as follows:
– Allegations (unconfirmed at this stage) that Hampton Creek products had tested positive for salmonella and listeria.
– Accusations of manipulation and adulteration of products.
– Allegations that some products were mislabeled as being non-GMO food.
– Reports of pathogens found at a manufacturing facility used by the company.
There havr been no reports of anyone falling sick as a result of any of the accused infractions, and Fortune reports that Hampton Creek completely denies the claims.
"The allegations that our products are mislabeled and unsafe are false." the company 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."
GoMN has reached out to Target for comment.
Challenges for 'plant-based' food-maker
The Business Journal reports that Hampton Creek's account with Target represents around $5.5 million a year in annual sales, but it has been facing a challenging retailer environment, last year reportedly spending $77,000 to buy its own products off shelves to make them appear more popular.
The startup attracted investment from a handful of California venture funds when it was founded in late 2011, making "plant-based" mixes, dressings, cookies, mayos and cookie dough.
In 2015, the company ran into trouble with the FDA for calling its mayonnaise products "Just Mayo" even though it doesn't contain eggs. (Hampton Creek uses canola oil and pea protein.) The Washington Post reports it reached a compromise, allowing the company to keep calling it "mayo" provided its label makes it clear no eggs are used.
But TechCrunch reports there's been turmoil at the executive level too, with the company allegedly "burning through $10 million a month" at one point. Its chief financial officer and HR chief were dismissed in May, and the company's COO left his position.