Counterfeiting and adulteration of saffron: isotopes as a geographical origin detector

Published: 6-Jul-2022

In France, inspections carried out in 2019 by the fraud control (DGCCRF) estimated that only 15% of saffron samples were conform

Did you know that it takes nearly 200,000 crocus flowers to produce 1 kg of saffron? Its rareness and high price value make this raw material particularly sought after and unfortunately most likely to be counterfeited. In France, inspections carried out in 2019 by the fraud control (DGCCRF) estimated that only 15% of saffron samples were conform. The analysis of the ratios of stable isotopes is an established method to determine the geographical origin of products. In different conditions (whether territorial or a particular climate) the isotopic ratios of the same molecule can be different.

Activ’Inside paired up with the CNRS of Lyon, an expert in this analytical field, to develop a new analysis method for saffron based on carbon and hydrogen isotopes.

"Studying and proving the authenticity of saffron was a real challenge for us. For nearly 10 years, we have built up a database on the isotopic ratios of saffron from different geographical origins. Thanks to the expertise of the CNRS teams, and the meticulousness of our biostatistician, we have analyzed and compared these ratios to highlight significant differences between saffron of different geographical origins. We are now able to demonstrate not only the naturalness of saffron but also its origin." - Benjamin MORAS, Phd in agro-industrial chemistry.

Soon to be published, this method and its results will complete Activ'Inside's analytical capability and confirm the appellation of origin that its Iranian saffron already enjoys. A leader in saffron analytical characterization, the company already conducts a set of 10 tests (DNA test, botanical non-adulteration test, synthetic safranal detection test, etc) to ensure a total absence of adulteration of the saffron it supplies to its customers.

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