The most common forms of fraud in saffron are as follows(the way to Specify Pure Saffron from fake saffron) :
The most prevalent method of fraud in saffron is to use the natural color of this plant for coloring its white parts and mix them with the red parts. Unfortunately, this method has become very popular. These frauds can claim they are selling just saffron because they do not use anything but parts of saffron flowers to market their products.
2. Another form of fraud is committed when processing saffron. Chemical and synthetic colors are used for coloring saffron. The most commonly used ones are tartrazine, Orange II, amaranth, Sunset Blue, Ponceau 4R, and Quinoline Yellow.
3. Short weight selling is another form of fraud.
4. Adding salt and sugar to saffron to increase its weight is one other form of fraud.
In all, the packaging of those selling Pure saffron complete and correct specifications presented by the producers. According to national Iranian standards, the following items should not be observed in pure high quality saffron (Pure Saffron Parameter Check List):
1. Unwanted physical materials including string, gravel, and sand
2. Fungi and mold that can be seen with the naked eye
3. Droppings of rodents and birds
In addition to physical materials, the following criteria stated in Standard 2-259 must be satisfied in the examination of saffron:
- The quantity of styles accompanying the stigmas
- The moisture content
- The total ash content and the percentage of acid-insoluble ash
- The extract soluble in cold water
- Foreign material from plants and the environment
- Color additives
- Picrocrocin ( the agent the imparts bitterness to saffron) content
- The safranal ( the agent that imparts fragrance to saffron) content
- Crocin (the agent imparting color to saffron) content
In general, due to the large number of fraud cases in marketed saffron, and since it is difficult to recognize pure saffron, it is recommended that saffron with known brands be bought.