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Vegan Mayo Start-Up Sued By Food Giant

homemade mayo

What makes mayonnaise "mayo?"

According to a lawsuit levied by Unilever, it's the eggs.

Big Food Puts Up Big Fight

Unilever, maker of Hellmann's mayo (or Best Taste mayo, depending on where in the country you live) is suing San Francisco start-up Hampton Creek over the use of the name "mayo" in their eggless product Just Mayo.

Just Mayo uses Canadian yellow peas in place of eggs in their mayo-like product. Just Mayo also uses an egg-shaped logo and takes on Hellmann's in its labeling.

Unilever is arguing that "mayo" has to contain eggs, as per Food and Drug Administration guidelines. For instance, Miracle Whip is considered a "salad dressing" by those standards.

The FDA created mayonnaise guidelines in 1957, and some food policy advocates argue the definition needs updating.

Americans Love Mayo

Unilever isn't just up in arms over eggs-the company is concerned about the bottom line.

Last year, mayonnaise outsold every other condiment in the United States, and Unilever gets 45 percent of that market.

Just Mayo is the first vegan product to challenge the food giant, showing up in Walmart stores and gaining backing from major contributors, like Bill Gates.

As part of the lawsuit, Unilever wants Just Mayo to pull all product and promotion from shelves that might confuse consumers, pay three times its profit plus legal damages, and stop claiming it's better than Hellmann's.

What's In Mayo?

Store-bought mayo may be convenient, but for those looking to make their own, it just involves a little bit of patience.

The Nibble reprinted recipes from Julia Child and Fanny Farmer. Julia Child includes tips for making mayonnaise, including bringing all ingredients to room temperature and the correct proportions of yolks, oil and acid. Julia Child's recipe is whisked by hand, but Fannie Farmer updates the recipe for use in an electric blender.

Still not patient enough? J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats demonstrates how to make mayonnaise in two minutes using an emulsion blender.

López-Alt also demonstrates how to make vegan mayonnaise, complete with the science behind egg-less mayo, using tofu.

For a soy-free alternative, The Kitchn makes homemade flax-seed vegan mayo, though notes there are flecks of flax in the final product.

Read More:

  • Big Food's weird war over the meaning of mayonnaise, America's top condiment (The Washington Post)
  • Hellmann's Maker Sues Company Over Its Just Mayo Substitute Mayonnaise (New York Times)

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