Sussex fake saffron discovery leads to £750,000 haul

Saffron in a bowl Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Saffron costs about £6 to £8 per gram

The discovery of fake saffron being sold in Sussex has resulted in an international investigation and the seizure of almost 90kg of the product.

Saffron laced with other lower quality ingredients was found in shops in Worthing and Adur, and traced back to a factory in Spain.

Trading Standards officers alerted the Spanish authorities who seized about £750,000 of adulterated saffron from a factory in Alicante.

Two people were arrested.

The spice, sometimes referred to as red gold, comes from the stigmas of saffron crocuses and costs about £6 to £8 per gram.

Peter Aston, from West Sussex Trading Standards, 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."

Officers tested 10 samples of the product and seven were diluted with cheaper plant fibres.

The method of adulteration usually consists of mixing the pure saffron stigmas with other cheaper parts of the same plant to bulk it out.

The sellers have not been prosecuted.

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