Earlier this week, an online outlet published an article about Hampton Creek — based on false, misguided reporting. People smarter than me in science and food and journalism have already discredited it. In this hyper-click age, I realize the article has passed into the night.
Yet, in the interest of truth, these are the fact-based responses:
- Hampton Creek intentionally left off the word “concentrate” from the lemon juice ingredient in Just Mayo.
It was an honest mistake and within days of being notified by a team member, I sent out the following to Supply Chain and Creative: “Imp: Let’s change to lemon juice concentrate. Easy label change.”
- Hampton Creek asked team members to come in early and stay late, and trained them to represent the company in the best light to visitors.
That’s true. Hampton Creek, like most young companies, does ask team members to occasionally come in early and stay late for guests. We also work with our team to represent the company well.
- While Hampton Creek has claimed it has as high as 4,000 plants or 7,000 plants in its database, it’s less than 1,000 and closer to 400.
That’s false. The Hampton Creek research databases contain botanical, molecular, and functional data across more than 100,000 plant species and varieties. We’re proud of the work of current (and former) team members across all disciplines of R&D.
- Just Mayo was not developed in-house. Hampton Creek has only done one major overhaul since.
False. Just Mayo was developed by Hampton Creek. Direct quote from Hampton Creek R&D leader after seeing the referenced outsourced samples on 6/3/12: “I expect that these formulations will significantly change. I don’t know what you’re going to do with these but I would not spend too much time on them since we have still a significant gap to close.” We’ve always said that we started with a product development firm, and then opted to move R&D in-house. We launched our formula more than a year later, and have done three mayo overhauls since.
- Jake Tetrick [my dog] previously roamed around the lab and has a taste for cookies.
That’s true, Jake still has a taste for sugar cookies— although he hasn’t been allowed in the lab for 2.5 years. He was never invited into the production facility.
- The company only tested its shelf-stable mayo for one month before guaranteeing a six-month shelf life.
Untrue. The samples and records tell a different story (see below). So does the shelf-stable product on thousands of shelves.
- Altering employee agreements.
In the beginning of the company, more than 2.5 years ago, I should have had an open conversation with team members immediately after seeing the mistakes in the agreements. It was my responsibility. Within days, I talked with the team about it and it was fixed.
- Preservative to a natural product not-for-sale sample.
True. Some product not-for-sale samples contained a preservative that shouldn’t have. The label was accurate, when the product launched. Policies have long been put in place to ensure alignment between sample formulation and ingredient statement.
- Josh had at least one relationship with a team member, and worried about it getting out. She received promotions and a pay raise to remain at the company.
I did date a team member. To suggest that anyone would receive a pay raise or promotion for anything other than merit is false.
- Our first overseas mayo shipment had issues. The mayo turned brown in some recipes.
Product quality wasn’t the issue. The lids were the issue during an international shipment, and we fixed it quickly. All mayo naturally tints with other ingredient coloring when mixed in recipes.
In working to change our food system, we screw up sometimes. We fix things constantly. We sprint back to work. We feel that food is the thread running through our most important problems, from diabetes and obesity (health care), to food deserts (race relations), to the decline of our family farms (economy). And at Hampton Creek, we’re building a company around fixing how we feed ourselves so that we might contribute to something larger.
We’ll stay focused on that.