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Hampton Creek Cleared of Buyback Allegations

The vegan company behind eggless Just Mayo is no longer under investigation for buying back its products to bulk up sales.

Last week, Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick sent an email to the company’s 140 employees stating that the Securities and Exchange Commision and the Department of Justice have dropped their investigation efforts against the vegan company. The investigation ensued pursuant to an exposé published by media outlet Bloomberg last year that alleged that Hampton Creek staffers were instructed to buy its own products—particularly, Just Mayo—in stores to inflate sales statistics. At the time, Tetrick explained the practice as routine for food startups and said that he set aside $7,000 for performing quality control operations that would ensure products sold in stores across the country were not affected by varying weather, packaging, and transportation conditions. Since its launch in 2011, Hampton Creek has been involved in several legal battles, all resulting in favor of the vegan company. In 2015, Hampton Creek was caught in a scandal perpetuated by the American Egg Board (AEB)—in collusion with Unilever and the US Food and Drug Administration—wherein 600 emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the entities had conspired against the vegan company to eliminate competition brought forth by its eggless Just Mayo product. While the scandal did not impose penalties on the AEB (apart from an instruction from the Agricultural Marketing Service to better enforce ethics policies within the organization), it did result in the early retirement of AEB’s then-CEO Joanne Ivy. “We should all be proud of the great work we've done in the last few months,” Tetrik’s email stated, adding, “We've got a lot of important work to do.”

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