Chinese researchers have developed an integrated approach combining HPLC/DAD, GC/MS, near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy, and chemometrics to geographically discriminate saffron samples from Iran and China. Using a dataset based on 98 samples of saffron, the saffron compounds picrocrocin and two types of crocins were found to be the discriminating markers, and the Chinese samples had higher contents of safranal and picrocrocin but lower cis-crocin 3Gg, kaempferol-3-O-sophoroside and isophorone.
Furthermore, an NIR method was successfully established to rapidly distinguish the Chinese and Iranian samples. The relationship between an ISO standard and the contents of the chemical indices was also studied. The results indicated that the ISO standard should be revised, especially for analysing safranal.
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