Release date: 6 August 2019
The discovery of fake saffron being sold in West Sussex has resulted in an international investigation and the seizure of almost 90kg of the product from a factory in Spain.
Saffron laced with other lower quality ingredients was found in outlets in the county by West Sussex Trading Standards service.
Officers carried out testing on ten samples of the product and seven were adulterated with cheaper plant fibres.
Many of the samples originated from Spain so Trading Standards reported the findings to the Food Standards Agency who then alerted the Spanish Authorities.
Almost 90kg of adulterated saffron worth between £600,000 and £750,000 was seized from a clandestine factory in Alicante, Spain. Two individuals were arrested.
Genuine saffron sells for £6 to £8 per gram.
The method of adulteration usually consists of mixing the pure saffron fibres with other cheaper fibres.
Peter Aston, Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “Genuine saffron is an expensive product so the potential to make money from adulteration is high.
“This is an excellent result for our Trading Standards service which has led to an international investigation and the discovery of thousands of pounds worth of adulterated saffron.”
Jacquie Russell, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said: “Deceiving customers through the sale of adulterated saffron is a serious offence, hurting both innocent buyers and legitimate businesses.
“I would like to thank our Trading Standards team for their hard work which resulted in this international investigation.”
Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of an unfair trading practice, should contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.