Hellmann’s Maker Revamps Website Amid Lawsuit, Calling Some Products “Mayonnaise Dressing,” Not Mayonnaise

Less than a week after it was first reported that Unilever, the parent company for Hellmann’s mayonnaise, filed a lawsuit against California-based Hampton Creek for false advertising over the company’s use of the word “mayo” in its eggless sandwich spread’s name, the larger company is reportedly covering its tracks, making sure its own use of the term is above-board by tweaking its website.

The Associated Press reports that a lawyer discussing the pending case with the founder of Just Mayo discovered that Unilever changed its website to make clear that some of its own products are “mayonnaise dressing,” rather than actual mayonnaise.

Michele Simon, a public health lawyer, says the websites for Hellmann’s and Best Foods “were changing right before our eyes” on Friday afternoon.

She says the site for Best Foods had been changed so that “Canola Cholesterol Free Mayonnaise” is now “Canola Cholesterol Free Mayonnaise Dressing.” Customer reviews were also reportedly changed, adding the word “dressing” after mayonnaise.

Officials with Unilever did not immediately return the AP’s request for comment on the matter.

Josh Tetrick, founder of Hampton Creek, tells the AP that since the suit was filed on October 31, he has been in talks with the Food and Drug Administration over the situation and is confident the company won’t have to change the name of its product.

He says the FDA’s standard of identity is for “mayonnaise” and not “mayo,” which is why the company chose the name “Just Mayo” to begin with.

According to the lawsuit, Unilever claims that the name of the Just Mayo spread misleads consumers because regulators and dictionaries define mayonnaise as a spread that contains eggs.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified compensation and a change to the Just Mayo label, claims that the name of Hampton Creek’s egg-free product implies it is a mayonnaise and that the company is “stealing market share from Hellmann’s.”

“Consumers and cooks have an expectation that mayonnaise should both taste and perform like mayonnaise,” the complaint states. “Just Mayo does neither.”

At the time of the lawsuit’s filing, officials with Unilever say they support providing consumers with choices. However, its suit contends that Just Mayo’s “false name is part of a larger campaign and pattern of unfair competition by Hampton Creek to falsely promote Just Mayo spread as tasting better than, and being superior to, Best Foods and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.”

Hellmann’s Maker Tweaks Site in ‘Mayonnaise’ Spat [The Associated Press]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.