Busted: A Budding Business Of Fraudulent Saffron

Lovely gardens in subtropical climates. Fragrant shrubs dotted with beautiful white flowers. That’s what comes to mind when talking about gardenia. Fraudsters found another, more sinister use for these popular ornamental plants. Gardenia extract possesses the same color and is therefore a common adulterant for the much pricier saffron. When analyzed, a unique marker, which is absent from real saffron and is present in the gardenia extract, is a sure giveaway that this adulterant was used. Fraudsters in Spain manipulated the gardenia extract to the point where the marker was no longer detectable, and used falsified import documents to run a very successful criminal operation. The Spanish Guardia Civil recently busted this criminal ring, who earned an estimated EUR 3 million at a 800% markup. Gardenia extract is not deemed fit for human consumption in the EU.

Find this and other incidents in the Food Fraud Database with over 14,300 entries.

Picture Credit Susanne Kuehne

Posted on 18 April 2022