“Sabinsa has worked very hard to promote and protect the integrity of the curcumin market from adulteration and IP infringement, while fostering research and promoting benefits and can thus attest to the efforts it requires,” said Shaheen Majeed, president of Sabinsa Worldwide. Sabinsa supplies a variety of curcuminoid ingredients including Curcumin C3 Complex, C3 Reduct, and Uc3 Clear.
Part of incubator program
The association is the brainchild of Scott Steinford, CEO of Trust Transparency Consulting. The new association is part of that company’s single ingredient trade association incubator program. Steinford said the Global Curcumin Association (GCA) will work to establish a best practice recognized third-party baseline for ingredient quality, identity and appropriate category definitions and standards. The association will also serve as a voice and supporter of science and education through all supply chain levels and customer, consumer and influencer communities.
Steinford is also the CEO of two relatively new existing single ingredient associations, the Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA), and the CoQ10 Association, which served as the precursors for the ingredient association incubator idea.
Quality as a goal—and roadblock
Steinford said the goals of the organization will be determined in detail by the eventual membership. But he said he’ll work to get agreement on the idea that getting some sort of baseline on identity and quality ought to be job No. 1.
“It is important that the potential for adulteration is at least identified and the opportunity for self-policing is made available," Steinford said.
The curcumin market has been marked in recent years with IP fights, some of which Sabinsa has been involved in. There have also been allegations of the use of undeclared synthetic curcuminoid fractions in ingredients on the market, and Sabinsa helped pioneer a carbon isotope method to help test for these. So it would seem that the need for an independent voice on quality exists in the marketplace.
But one of the big roadblocks for the formation of such ingredient associations is the perception that having a bunch of suppliers together in an organization implies that all the ingredients are of similar quality. For suppliers of higher-priced ingredients who argue their investments in testing, product development and clinical trials warrants a higher price point, this can be too bitter a pill to swallow. Steinford countered that it is more about making sure ingredients meet a minimum quality and safety standard, and to ensure that someone can’t get away with selling a watered down or perhaps tainted ingredient and calling it with the same name as a more ethical supplier does theirs.
“What we are trying to do is to put together a group of ingredient leaders to propose a standard which we can all live with. There will always be an opportunity for one product to be better than another. What we don’t want to do is to have a race to the bottom. We want to avoid an issue that can take down a whole category. The tryptophan debacle (the event in the late 1980s in which an improperly manufactured amino acid that found its way into many finished products resulted in more than 1,500 serious illnesses and 38 deaths) wiped out a category for a decade or more,” he said.