Silicon Valley start-up Hampton Creek makes a range of vegan products, including its well-known Just Mayo. Target carries 20 of the brand's products, including Just Cookie Dough, Just Dressings, Just Cookies and Just Mayo. All 20 have been pulled.
A spokeswoman said: “Pending a full review, Target today started a market withdrawal of Hampton Creek products, which are being removed from Target stores and Target.com.”
According to the spokeswoman, Target has received allegations regarding food safety concerns - including unconfirmed allegations that the products had tested positive for salmonella and listeria.
Although Target says it is not aware of any customers becoming ill after consuming Hampton Creek products, it says the allegations are so serious and specific that it responded with extra caution, and even remotely disabled its cash registers from checking out Hampton Creek products.
The cost of removing these products was incurred by Target.
In addition, Target claimed the company had also been accused of mislabeling some of its products - incorrectly saying the items are non-GMO. It said one allegation claimed the Just Sweet Mustard salad dressing contains honey, which is not listed as an ingredient on the label.
But Hampton Creek responded via a statement to refute these claims, saying all products comply with FDA labeling regulations - and the non-GMO claims can be backed up by ingredient supplier documentation.
It said: “The allegations that our products are mislabeled and unsafe are false,” San Francisco-based Hampton Creek said in a statement. “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 Food and Drug Administration [FDA] to bring this to a quick resolution.”
Target with now work with the FDA in order to provide any information it needs in the case of a potential investigation.
This is not the first issue Hampton Creek has suffered recently. The company made headlines when Unilver - owner of Hellman's Mayonnaise - tried to sue the brand for violating truth-in-labeling laws saying that 'mayonnaise must contain eggs'. Unilever went on to drop the lawsuit.
Some weeks ago, the spotlight was shone on the company when three high level staff were dismissed after an alleged coup plot.
Last year, the company voluntarily removed some products from Wal-Mart stores after a Salmonella risk, with CEO Josh Tetrick saying: “Nothing else matters without safety."
In addition, it was reported that CEO Tetrick and other staff had been bulk buying Just Mayo in an attempt to boost sales stats, though Tetrick dismissed the claims saying the purchases were merely quality control.