Hampton Creek's Charges Against Egg Board Are Dropped, But "Ethics Training" Still Recommended
Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its “Summary of Allegations and Findings” in the case against the American Egg Board (AEB). The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) conducted a federal investigation into the board following allegations from Hampton Creek, creator of Just Mayo and other vegan products. Charges have been dropped against the AEB, but not without recommending “ethics and etiquette” training for all of the staff involved.
You might remember the scandal that broke last year surrounding the leaked emails from AEB CEO Joanne Ivy. The emails clearly outlined a plot to “keep Just Mayo off Whole Foods shelves” and Ivy consequently retired from her position soon afterward. After obtaining over 600 emails through the Freedom of Information Act, Hampton Creek’s allegations were followed up by the AMS, especially the claims that the AEB were encouraged to perform illegal activities.
AMS reviewed these emails, as well as others outlining a plan to hire a third party insider to get Just Mayo off the shelves, a threat to “put a hit” on Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick, and hiring bloggers to discredit the company. AMS found, however, that the AEB did not engage in any criminal activity, yet recognized that what they did find was “inappropriate” and “raised concerns.” If they had been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing, they could have faced charges of misappropriation of funds, withholding information, and violating federal laws meant to protect against unfair competition. Instead, a recommendation of “ethics and etiquette training” for those involved will have to do.
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