Jay&Joy acquired after listeriosis outbreak

French plant-based cheese brand Jay&Joy was acquired in June after being placed in receivership in March.

The takeover, led by new CEO César Augier, sees the brand secure investment of €2 million, raised through a funding round supported by leading investors including High Flyers Capital.

The funds are expected to help Jay&Joy expand its team and resume production after the vegan cheesemaker ceased operating in January, following investigations into an outbreak of listeriosis – an infectious disease caused by the bacterium of Lysteria monocytogenes – linked to its cheese alternatives.

In early 2023 the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and French newspaper Le Figaro reported on the listeriosis outbreak, stating that the French Ministry for Social Affairs and Health had confirmed five ‘serious’ cases of the disease in France between April and December 2022, including in four pregnant women whose babies were subsequently born prematurely.

Joint investigations were conducted by Santé Publique France, the National Reference Center for Listeria, the Directorate General for Food, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention and the General Directorate of Health. The groups identified that in the weeks preceding the identification of infection, each of the individuals had consumed cheese alternatives made using almonds, walnuts and cashews manufactured and marketed by Jay&Joy.

An inspection of the brand’s manufacturing facility revealed ‘irregularities’ concerning the management of microbiological contamination risks, leading to a suspension of the marketing of all Jay&Joy products which had been manufactured and stored at the site; the company issued a withdrawal and recall notice for SKUs dated between 14 January and 30 March 2023.

[Jay&Joy] grew very quickly, without putting in place the right quality controls

Recalls were also issued in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium after three further cases were identified following consumption of the brand’s plant-based cheese.

Now, with Augier at the helm, Jay&Joy is ‘preparing for a bright future’. Bringing 17 years’ experience in business management and leadership and a passion for ‘sustainable development, climate and food tech’ to the team, Augier plans to resume production at the factory in La-Croix-Saint-Ouen, northern France, this summer. “[Jay&Joy] grew very quickly, without putting in place the right quality controls,” he told Le Figaro. “We work hand in hand with the health authorities, and we have a quality expert at the forefront.”

But an announcement on Instagram in June that ‘Jay&Joy is back’ was met with consumer backlash, as some 300 followers criticized the brand for its lack of ‘explanation’ and ‘transparency’ over the outbreak and called for the removal of ‘vegan’ from its hashtags over concerns of the treatment of rodents at its facility.

The brand’s website has been updated with a button directing shoppers to ‘rediscover’ its range, a message stating ‘We missed you’ and a note that the store located on Rue Paul Bert in Paris remains ‘permanently closed’.

NPN has contacted Jay&Joy for comment.

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Having spent the early part of career putting her BA (Hons) in Media Writing to use as a freelancer writer across a number of industries – from wellbeing, food and travel to design and events – Rosie Greenaway’s post as editor of Natural Products News and Natural Beauty News began in 2017. In 2018 she co-launched NPN’s 30 under 30 initiative, is a regular presenter and speaker on industry panels, is a judge of several awards schemes in food and beauty (from the Soil Association’s BOOM Awards to the Who’s Who in Green Beauty Scandinavia) and acts as an Advisory Board Member for the Sustainable Beauty Coalition.