saffron (3)

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This interesting overview of methods to detect adulteration of different spices is presented in an easy understable way. There is an interview with a Belgian spice trader outlining the scale of the problem. The various authenticity methods used to detect spice adulteration are described by scientists at the European Commission's Joint  Research Centre - Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit in Geel, Belgium.

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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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Spanish researchers have developed a liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-(quadropole time of flight)-MS) method to check the authenticity and adulteration of saffron, one of the most expensive spices/natural colourants on the market. Glycosylated kaempferol derivatives were determined as authenticity markers for saffron, and detection of geniposide revealed saffron adulteration with gardenia. The limit of detection of gardenia in saffron using this method was 0.2%.

Read the abstract at: QC of Saffron by LC-MS

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