Yesterday, retail giant Target began removing 20 products made by Hampton Creek from store shelves nationwide. While an official recall order from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was not issued, Target alleged that the items may pose salmonella and listeria threats, contain undeclared ingredients (such as honey in Hampton Creek’s Just Sweet Mustard salad dressing), amongst other claims. Target also reprogrammed its cash registers to no longer recognize Hampton Creek items to further discourage their sale. “Pending a full review,” a spokesperson for the retail chain told Fortune, “Target today started a market withdrawal of Hampton Creek products, which are being removed from Target stores and Target.com.” Target alerted the FDA to the allegations and a representative for Hampton Creek responded, stating, “The allegations that our products are mislabeled and unsafe are false,” adding, “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 2015, Hampton Creek faced several legal battles, incited by food industry giants such as the American Egg Board and Unilever which saw the eggless company as a threat to animal agriculture. In 2016, Unilever’s Hellmann’s (known also as Best Foods) brand obtained vegan certification for its own eggless mayo—that it launched to compete with Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo earlier that year. Also in 2016, media outlet Bloomberg published an exposé that alleged Hampton Creek illegally bolstered its sales by buying back the company’s own products from stores—charges that, after a thorough investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice dropped in April. Coincidentally, Bloomberg also broke the latest news regarding the removal of Hampton Creek products by Target—where Hellmann’s vegan mayonnaise continues to be sold nationwide.
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