Natural specialty ingredients manufacturer Kemin Foods, has filed a lawsuit contending that Chicago-based chemical company, Cognis Corp., continues to make false claims that blur the differences between lutein esters and the purified form of lutein that only Kemin Foods manufactures.
Additionally, Kemin alleges that Cognis is not providing labelling guidelines to its vitamin customers as required by a 1999 court settlement between the two companies.
"After several communications between companies and a meeting proposed by Kemin to resolve differences, it became obvious that the only way to effectively solve this dispute was through the courts. We felt we were left with no choice in protecting our position to our customers, consumers and the industry,'' says Rodney L. Ausich, Ph.D., Kemin Foods president.
Filed yesterday the lawsuit seeks to end Cognis' claims about lutein esters that, according to Kemin, confuse the marketplace about the differences between the two compounds. Kemin is also looking to be assured that Cognis provides all its customers with labelling guidelines that communicate the distinct differences between lutein and lutein esters.
Through a patented process, Kemin manufactures FloraGLO® lutein, chemically identical to lutein found naturally in dark green, leafy vegetables. In the lawsuit, Kemin contends its purified lutein is different from lutein esters, and that Cognis is encouraging confusion among its customers and consumers by making unsubstantiated claims about the differences between its own product Xangold® lutein esters and FloraGLO lutein, a purified ingredient that is readily absorbed by the body.
"The 1999 settlement agreement was good news for supplement manufacturers and the consumers who carefully read ingredient labelling because it strictly prohibited Cognis from representing that its lutein ester product is, or contains, lutein,'' said Ausich.
"Both parties agreed that Cognis would supply labelling guidelines to its customers recommending that its lutein esters product should not be referred to as lutein.
"We've discovered evidence that they are not supplying the guidelines and are, in fact, continuing to make claims that obscure the differences between FloraGLO lutein and lutein esters, to the confusion of the marketplace,'' he added.
FloraGLO lutein is the only lutein that is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) for food and beverage applications.