A Short Note on Adulteration of Saffron which no one will tell you
In recent years, saffron adulterated with the colouring extract of gardenia fruits has been detected in the European market. This form of fraud is difficult to detect due to the presence of flavonoids and crocines in the gardenia-extracts similar to those naturally occurring in saffron. Detection methods have been developed by using HPLC and mass spectrometry to determine the presence of geniposide, a compound present in the fruits of gardenia, but not in saffron.
First of all What is Adulteration:- An adulterant is a substance found within other substances such as food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, fuel or other chemicals that compromises the safety or effectiveness of the said substance.
It will not normally be present in any specification or declared substances due to accident or negligence rather than intent, and also for the introduction of unwanted substances after the product has been made.
Adulteration, therefore, implies that the adulterant was introduced deliberately in the initial manufacturing process, or sometimes that it was present in the raw materials and should have been removed, but was not.
An adulterant is distinct from, for example, permitted food preservatives. There can be a fine line between adulterant and additive; chicory may be added to coffee to reduce the cost or achieve the desired flavour—this is adulteration if not declared, but may be stated on the label.
Chalk was often added to bread flour; this reduces the cost and increases whiteness, but the calcium actually confers health benefits, and in modern bread, a little chalk may be included as an additive for this reason.
In wartime, adulterants have been added to make foodstuffs "go further" and prevent shortages.
The German word ersatz is widely recognised for such practices during World War II. Such adulteration was sometimes deliberately hidden from the population to prevent loss of morale and propaganda reasons.
Some goods considered luxurious in the Soviet Bloc such as coffee were adulterated to make them affordable to the general population.
Saffron Adulteration:- Despite attempts at quality control and standardisation, an extensive history of saffron adulteration, particularly among the cheapest grades, continues into modern times.
Adulteration was first documented in Europe's Middle Ages when those found selling adulterated saffron were executed under the Safranschou code.
Typical methods include mixing in extraneous substances like beetroot, pomegranate fibres, red-dyed silk fibres, or the saffron crocus's tasteless and odourless yellow stamens.
Other methods included dousing saffron fibres with viscid substances like honey or vegetable oil to increase their weight. Powdered saffron is more prone to adulteration, with turmeric, paprika, and other powders used as diluting fillers.
Adulteration can also consist of selling mislabelled mixes of different saffron grades. Thus, high-grade Kashmiri saffron is often sold and mixed with cheaper Iranian imports; these mixes are then marketed as pure Kashmiri saffron, a development that has cost Kashmiri growers much of their income. Safflower is a common substitute sometimes sold as saffron.
The spice is reportedly counterfeited with horsehair, corn silk, or shredded paper. Tartrazine or sunset yellow have been used to colour counterfeit powdered saffron.
In recent years, saffron adulterated with the colouring extract of gardenia fruits has been detected in the European market.
This form of fraud is difficult to detect due to the presence of flavonoids and crocines in the gardenia extracts similar to those naturally occurring in saffron.
Detection methods have been developed by using HPLC and mass spectrometry to determine the presence of geniposide, a compound present in the fruits of gardenia, but not in saffron.