Sabinsa has sent a cease & desist letter to Applied Food Sciences (AFS) for making claims of high levels of natural vitamin C in that company’s branded amla (Emblica officinalis) extract. The letter states that AFS’s representations that the product contains 25% vitamin C derived from amla (which is not technically possible) “mislead and deceive consumers and constitute unfair competition and false advertising under applicable law.”

As Sabinsa reminded the industry in June, research has confirmed that amla does not contain ascorbic acid in consistent amounts, and often only in trace quantities, which is why it is neither a valid biomarker nor a source of high amounts of vitamin C. Sabinsa scientists have published research on the low occurrence of vitamin C in amla products1. The high level reported by AFS can only be obtained by adding vitamin C obtained through fermentation.

“As we stated in the cease & desist letter, we welcome competition when it is fair and not likely to mislead consumers, however, suppliers who blend fermentation-derived vitamin C with amla extract to claim a high amount of vitamin C must disclose it,” said Sabinsa founder and chairman Dr. Muhammed Majeed. “As we’ve done in the past taking action against suppliers selling synthetic curcumin labeled as turmeric extract, so too will we be relentless in protecting the integrity of the amla market.”

The letter demands that AFS stop making those false claims and notify all customers, and accurately identify the source of vitamin C in their ingredient in the future.

1 Majeed et al, Ascorbic Acid and Tannins from Emblica officinalis Gaertn. Fruits—A Revisit J. Agric. Food Chem. 2009, 57, 1, 220–225,