The Pink Elephant In The Room

I can’t help but wonder—why is everyone pretending that Hampton Creek is a great company doing great things for our earth? The facts are so clear and obvious but I see the issues being skirted in the media and the majority of readers—including the smart ones that listen to NPR radio- are giving Hampton Creek way more credit than they deserve—lets do a recap here of what is being said and what is really true:

  1. Just Mayo is a PLANT BASED product: Just Mayo is almost all oil and modified food starch. It is not natural (modified food starch is not natural) and the finished product is certainly not “plant based”in the way that Hampton Creek is making it out to be. Yes it has oil (like most spreads and dressings) and it also has the modified food starch mentioned (from corn) but the pea protein- -which is the “plant” that Hampton Creek is saying that the product is based on- is only in the product at less than 2%. It really isn’t even needed in there!
  2. Just Cookies (or Cookie Dough) Can Change the World: Is a plant based product- Just Cookie dough or cookies has less than 2% sorgum (the plant that is supposedly making this product the amazing cookie that it is) – but really the cookie is mostly flour, sugar and other typical cookie ingredients like xanthan gum, brown sugar and soy lecithin. So how can this cookie change the world again?
  3. Poor Hampton Creek- the FDA is really being Mean: The FDA may do lots of things that the masses do not agree with- but I think everyone should agree that its nice to have defined products out there so food companies can’t deceive us into thinking their margarine is butter or their jam is not artificially sweetened/colored sugar and pectin. Mayonnaise just happens to be a defined product and Just Mayo has a picture of an EGG on it—so to many people who don’t watch the news or NPR radio, they will assume they are getting real mayonnaise and instead they are getting modified food starch and oil.
  4. Just Mayo-It’s JUST a name: Just Mayo has a whole bunch of violations on their label including the name, healthy implications and ingredient statement violations.

I work with start up companies that don’t even get 10K in investment money, let alone 120 million and they still did their due diligence and read the CFR’s (that would be the CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS) to ensure they didn’t violate any labeling regulations and mislead consumers.

Hampton Creek loves to boast about how their product is so affordable—of COURSE its affordable- its cheap oil and modified food starch. Modified food starch is why we get cheap shelf stable puddings and dry gravy mixes—its like a SUPER ingredient that can leap across mountains and make ingredients do what they don’t normally do.

Everything about Hampton Creek reminds me of the Molecular Gastronomy era. Remember Ferran? Wylie Dufrense? Homaro Canto (may he rest in peace)? All these chefs loved playing around with modified food starch and carboxymethycellulose and xanthan gum. They were AMAZED at all the cool things industrial ingredients (invented and discovered like a million years ago by my long dead food science professors professors) could do— like a kid in candy store they discovered the ingredients we have been using all along. Hampton Creek even hired one of those cool molecular chefs Ben Roche- formerly of Hampton Creek.

Hampton Creek is not going to save the world by putting out products that have already long ago been invented. At BEST they are bringing awareness to the masses on how chickens are treated and how not eating chicken/chicken products we can use less water and less resources—but that is AT BEST.. at WORST they are putting out silly products to promote their own marketing agenda—and wasting millions of dollars on researching pea proteins and sorghum that don’t really add anything to their product.

It would have cost less money to pay Josh Tetrick a salary to go around the country with his chef side kick Chris Jones giving talks on how we don’t need eggs to make cookies and doing demo’s on the wonders of food starch. Think of all those millions that could go to food science departments and fund real research being conducted by real food scientists and not molecular gastronomy chefs.

*For the record, I always admired chefs who play with industrial ingredients as they were able to bring creativity to the table using the very same ingredients that we (the food scientists) use to make foods normal and functional. So three cheers for those chefs- they have their place and space in this world—to entertain and amuse us with hydrocolloids and dehydrated bell pepper powder dipped squid – not squander money that uninformed investors paid in to get a scientifically sound and legal food product.

Josh Tetrick has offended me as a food scientist and as a human being. I don’t like being mislead and I don’t like it when marketing teams try to pretend like their product is all that– when it ain’t and its been done MANY times before.

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