Kemin, Cognis Back in Court Over Lutein Claims

January 14, 2002

2 Min Read
Kemin, Cognis Back in Court Over Lutein Claims

Kemin, Cognis Back in Court Over Lutein Claims

DES MOINES, Iowa--Kemin Foods filed suit in the U.S. FederalDistrict Court for the Southern District of Iowa against Cincinnati-based CognisCorp. for making advertising claims that allegedly fail to differentiate Kemin'spurified lutein from Cognis' lutein esters. In addition, Kemin ( that Cognis ( is notproviding labeling guidelines as were required by a 1999 court settlementbetween the two companies. Cognis released a statement disputing Kemin's newallegations.

The prior suit, which was filed in August 1998 by Kemin Foods againstDusseldorf, Germany-based Henkel Corp., was settled in July 1999. (In late 1999,the German company transferred approximately 50 divisions that made up itschemical business segment--including Henkel Nutrition & Health Group--into aseparate legal entity called Cognis Corp.) In the 1998 case, Kemin Foods claimedthat Henkel's marketing led consumers to believe they were purchasing lutein (inthe form of Henkel's product, Xangold), when they were actually purchasinglutein esters. Henkel countersued, disputing the statements Kemin made againstits product. The companies reached a settlement, which allowed Henkel tocontinue to inform consumers of the benefits of Xangold lutein esters, andallowed Kemin to refer to FloraGLO Lutein as "purified lutein."

In the current lawsuit, filed on Dec. 10, Kemin is challenging Cognis'marketing verbiage and is asking the court to put "an end to Cognis' falseclaims about lutein esters that confuse the marketplace about the differencesbetween the two compounds" and order "verification that Cognis isproviding all its customers with labeling guidelines that communicate thedistinct differences between lutein and lutein esters."

According to Kemin, numerous communications have been conducted between thetwo companies to discuss disagreements in marketing verbiage. The two companiesagreed to meet in person to discuss their differences but were unable to come toan agreement, according to Steve Hanson, director of marketing for Kemin Foods.After communicating through letters again and reviewing literature distributedby Cognis at SupplySide West in Las Vegas, Hanson said there was no other optionbut to take their disagreements to court.

"We want to ensure that customers and consumers are being providedinformation that is truthful and understandable, and that there is not anyconfusion in the marketplace regarding the differences between lutein and luteinesters," Hanson said. "That was our goal in 1999 and that is our goaltoday. We further would like to see that Cognis complies with the settlementagreement that has been in place since 1999."

Cognis responded in a statement that Kemin's allegations are unsubstantiated."Cognis makes truthful, scientifically substantiated claims andnon-misleading statements regarding its lutein ester product Xangold," saidJanetta Walls, Cognis Corp. vice president and general counsel. "Cognis hascarefully adhered to its commitments in the 1999 settlement agreement betweenthe two companies. In fact, over the course of the last several months, Cognishas, through several letters to Kemin, repeatedly demanded that Kemin cease thefalse and misleading claims they are making in the marketplace about bothcompanies' products."

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