When you hear the word mayonnaise or mayo for short, chances are you think of a yellow-hued, thick and creamy condiment that is forbidden when you’re vegan because egg is such a prominent ingredient in it. Now, the FDA has told a company wanting to market vegan mayo that they can’t use the term 'mayonnaise' to describe their product.
Vegan Mayo? Can it Be a Thing?
A U.S. company called Hampton Creek Foods is all about substituting animal-derived ingredients with plant-based ones (we like ’em already!) and one of the ways in which they do this is by trading eggs for other ingredients in a variety of products, one of them being mayonnaise. Who wouldn’t love a vegan alternative to mayo for chips, burgers, and sandwiches? That’s where the company’s 'Just Mayo' product comes in, but now the FDA has claimed that they cannot use the word 'mayo' in their product name or the picture of an egg that appears with it.
Misleading to Consumers
The reason? The FDA states that these two elements give consumers the wrong idea. By seeing them, consumers will tend to think that the product is conventional mayo and contains eggs. As they say in a letter, '… it may lead them to believe that the products are the standardized food, mayonnaise, which must contain eggs as described under 21 CFR 169.140(c).' The company has since claimed that they do not intend to change the name of the product because consumers can flip the product around and see the ingredients for themselves.
Finding New Vegan Labels
This makes one think: do the vegan alternatives for conventional foods sometimes mean that we might lose some of our traditional favourites, like mayo or hot dogs? It makes one think how being vegan is not just about switching to different foods in one’s diet but a complete lifestyle change and also a practice in new words and labels for things we’ve become used to. Think of chocolate and you imagine creamy milk; think of pizza and you think of stringy cheese. Being vegan requires the need to wrap our heads around a new way of labelling foods and finding a vegan alternative that can be just as exciting and tasty. On the one hand, I get what the FDA is saying about the rules surrounding mayo, but on the other hand I can totally see why Hampton Creek Foods would not want to change the name of their product. Vegan mayo can exist without eggs and even though the product does bear the image of an egg, it’s just a white object and it has a small plant growing through it which links up to the whole plant-based idea. Perhaps we need to go back to the root of things and change the definition of mayo before we change how vegan companies are marketing their products.
*Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons