On October 6, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) posted its “Summary of Allegations and Findings” regarding the federal investigation that the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) conducted against the American Egg Board (AEB). The AMS review focused on nine allegations made against the AEB by Hampton Creek after 600 emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) revealed intent to conduct illegal activities against the vegan company. AMS reviewed allegations wherein AEB CEO Joanne Ivy—who retired early last October after the FOIA emails surfaced—threatened to “put a hit” on Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick, attempted to hire a third-party insider to remove egg-less Just Mayo from Whole Foods Market shelves, and hired bloggers to discredit Hampton Creek. While the investigation found these behaviors “inappropriate” and stated that they “raised concerns for AMS,” the governmental body found the AEB did not engage in any criminal activity, and recommended further ethics and etiquette training to be carried out by its members. AMS’ forensic evidence found that Ivy deleted several emails related to the matter, after instructing her colleagues to do the same. If found guilty, the AEB would have been charged with five federal violations of laws that protect unfair competition, misappropriation of funds, and withholding of information.
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