International botanical ingredients specialist Sabinsa says it has identified “mischaracterized” amla (Indian Gosseberry) extract with claims of high levels of natural vitamin C for sale in the marketplace.

The New Jersey, USA-headquartered company says that because vitamin C occurs only in trace quantities in amla, it is not economically feasible to isolate and extract vitamin C up to 25% from that raw material. Nonetheless, it says, some companies are claiming to offer 25% weight for weight vitamin C derived from amla and further asserting their material is organic.

Sabinsa’s own scientists have previously published research on the low occurrence of vitamin C in amla products. They were therefore surprised to come across an amla extract advertised to contain vitamin C more than 25%, and decided to dig deeper.

“The major source of vitamin C is through fermentation. If suppliers buy fermentation-derived vitamin C and blend it with their amla extract to claim as high as 25% w/w of vitamin C, they should disclose this,” said Sabinsa founder and chairman Dr. Muhammed Majeed. “This unethical practice is not easily detected by normal analytical methods for vitamin C analysis. It is also not distinguishable by C14 radiocarbon content method, either. But there are other analytical methods to expose this repugnant practice.”

In a series of experiments designed to isolate vitamin C from an amla extract labeled as organic with 25% vitamin C, Sabinsa scientists were able to show that the origin of vitamin C to be “clearly derived by fermentation, and not from amla”.

“Because we have the science and expertise to unravel this unscrupulous practice, tarnishing one of India’s beloved and cherished fruits will not be tolerated,” said Sabinsa president worldwide, Shaheen Majeed. “We have identified a few companies practicing this deception, and will be filing notices to them in the weeks ahead. We hope the industry will appreciate and adopt the methodology we’ve disclosed, so no further deception occurs.”