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Counterfeiting Isotopes as an Origin Detector for Saffron

Source: Press release MA Alexander Stark

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

It takes nearly 200,000 crocus flowers to produce 1 kg of saffron.
It takes nearly 200,000 crocus flowers to produce 1 kg of saffron.
(Source: Public Domain / Pixabay)

Its rareness and high price value make Saffron particularly sought after and unfortunately most likely to be counterfeited. In France, inspections carried out in 2019 by the fraud control estimated that only 15 percent 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.

“Studying and proving the authenticity of saffron was a real challenge for us. For nearly ten 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”, says 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 ten 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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