Sabinsa has taken legal action against a German company, Biotikon Produkte der Komplementärmedizin, Herr Dr. Alexander Michalzik, Buchklinger Weg 17, 69517 Gorxheimertal, Germany, for selling curcumin supplements described as derived from turmeric root but which independent testing confirmed contained significant amounts of synthetic curcumin.

Although Sabinsa several times requested that Biotikon cease & desist advertising the company’s curcumin as natural, Biotikon did not comply. Sabinsa therefore saw no alternative other than to initiate actions at the civil courts of Germany and with the District Attorney, Darmstadt, and the Veterinary and Consumer Protection Agency, Heppenheim.

The dispute covers the damages for false advertising of a synthetic product as natural, and for using Sabinsa’s trademark “ BioPerine®” illegally without Sabinsa’s consent, undermining the credibility of the trademark, plus court costs and legal fees.

Sabinsa also claims that Biotikon has been using published studies on Sabinsa’s Curcumin C3 Complex® and BioPerine® ingredients in marketing Biotikon’s products adulterated with synthetic curcumin.

“Sabinsa has taken a strong stand to combat the substituting of natural curcumin with synthetic versions, alerting the industry to the adulteration problem two years ago when Sabinsa became aware that Turmeric extracts adulterated with synthetic curcuminoids were infiltrating the market,” said Sabinsa founder Dr. Muhammed Majeed. “Continuing the company’s proactive leadership in addressing this problem, Sabinsa initiated radio carbon testing for all batches of Curcumin C3 Complex®, safeguarding customer and consumer confidence in their product.”

Synthetic curcumin is made from petroleum-based materials in which radiocarbon is totally absent, unlike plant-derived material where a definitive amount is present. Testing methods such as Accelerator Mass Spectrometry can accurately assess the content of radiocarbon in a sample and can readily distinguish between a natural sample and its synthetic version. It can even determine the extent or degree of synthetic contamination in a professed natural product when both the natural and synthetic products are mixed, a common practice to offer cheap material.
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