Food startup Hampton Creek told federal regulators that their definition of mayonnaise shouldn't necessarily apply to its abbreviated name.
The San Francisco company makes a product called Just Mayo entirely out of plant-based materials, which sparked a since-withdrawn lawsuit from Unilever — which owns Hellman's mayonnaise — and prompted a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In an August letter, the FDA wrote that "mayo" is understood as shorthand for mayonnaise and that mayonnaise must contain eggs.
Hampton Creek, however, reportedly responded that those terms are different and should be regulated as such.
"The term 'mayo' should not now be held to the regulatory standard for 'mayonnaise,'" company attorney Josh Schiller wrote in a response to the FDA, according to Business Insider.
The FDA plans to meet with Hampton Creek this month to discuss the controversy. The agency also indicated in its warning letter that the amount of fat in Just Mayo means that the company can't market the product as heart healthy.
Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick said in August that the company believes it's on sound legal footing and that the product's name likely won't need to be changed.
Just Mayo also sparked a controversy after reports that the American Egg Board — which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — attempted to get the product pulled from Whole Foods shelves.
The scandal resulted in the Egg Board's CEO stepping down, as well as the opening of an investigation by the USDA.