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Target Removing Just Mayo and Other Hampton Creek Products From Shelves

The retailer heard specific allegations about food safety issues.

Target (TGT) is voluntarily removing all Hampton Creek products, including its popular Just Mayo brand, from its stores after allegations of food safety issues, dealing the fast-growing plant-based food startup a potentially painful setback.

“Pending a full review, Target today started a market withdrawal of Hampton Creek products, which are being removed from Target stores and Target.com,” a Target spokeswoman told Fortune in an e-mail statement late Thursday. The news was first reported by Bloomberg News.

The 1,800-store retailer, Hampton Creek’s largest client, hasn’t confirmed any of the allegations nor their source, and is not aware of anyone falling sick. Target, the third largest U.S. retailer, alerted the (Food and Drug Administration) to the allegations.

Hampton Creek denies the claims, telling Fortune, “The allegations that our products are mislabeled and unsafe are false. It added: “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 FDA to bring this to a quick resolution.”

The move is not without risk for Target, which last month reported a first-quarter drop of 1.5% comparable sales, in contrast to increases at Walmart. (WMT). The chain is struggling to reinvent its grocery offering and revive swooning revenue with trendier products, including 20 different Hampton Creek items, including Just Dressings, Just Cookies and the egg-free Just Mayo. It generates about one-third of Hampton Creek’s retail sales, Bloomberg said.
Target is grappling with declining traffic and already, a number of customers took to Twitter to lament Target’s decision and call for the return of Hampton Creek’s products. One customer, using the handle @pleasantmoonglo, asked the store on Twitter to “bring back Hampton Creek products! It’s the only reason I visit Target every week.”

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