Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From: Natural Heath Dossier, May 24, 2011

From: Natural Health Dossier.

World's Most Seductive Spice Cuts Depression by 25% Tuesday May 24, 2011

"Take care to know what kind of saffron you're taking. Pure saffron contains only the dried stigmas of the crocus flower. The highest-grade version of the spice is red and has a distinct aroma. Yellow saffron works, but it's not as potent."

Dear Sir: (May 24,2011. Natural Health Dossier)
On Saffron:
The yellow part has no culinary value and does not have any saffron. It is left in Spanish saffron to add weight and when it is left on it also traps "moisture" which again adds weight and shortens the shelf life and quality of the saffron. The trapped moisture eventually "spoils" the saffron given it the musty smell instead of the clean aroma of all RED Persian/Afghanistan,Iranian saffron. Be advised to buy only Persian/Afghanistan, Iranian origin saffron. We took four Spanish samples to the laboratory for HPLC and they all came back positive with artificial added colors. There is a big scandal of adulterated saffron going on in Spain which the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture refuses to address by implying that is a "mix" of lower grade Iranian and Spanish. Our lab reports indicate that is OUTRIGHT adulteration and their own figures prove it. The Ministry claims that in 2010 Spain exported 190,000 kg at $64,000,00 that is $336.00 dollars per kilo. How can this be so when in 2010 saffron in Spain sold for over $3500 a kg and in Iran at $2,550 kg? it is adulteration and nothing more. Spanish saffron industry is unregulated and Spanish exporters do NOT have to submit samples for examination that is why the world is inundated with their artificial colored saffron. For farther reading go to www.saffron.com and read "The Consumer Guide to Saffron Purchasing". Also read the "Spanish Saffron Scandal" The Telegraph, May 11, 2011. When you purchase saffron always ask for a laboratory report from the country in which you made the purchase. Do not accept Spanish lab reports they are all "cooked". Our SARGOL saffron hits at least 242 units of color and all your purchases are also carry an HPLC report.
If you have any technical questions drop us a line at saffron@saffron.com
Juan J. San Mames, President Vanilla, Saffron Imports.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why pay $250.00 an ounce for INFERIOR Spanish saffron...

... when you can buy SUPERIOR Persian/Afghanistan saffron for $79.95 per oz? Spanish denomination of origin or any other EU (European Union) denomination has nothing to do with the quality of the saffron; all it means is that it is grown in Spain, and that does NOT make it better as our laboratory parameters show. Saffron is not a native product of Spain but of Persia, where it had been cultivated for 5000 before being brought to Spain in 711. Spain has no saffron regulations of any kind except the ones they invent to deceive the consumer. Spain is a small producer of saffron with about 900 kg. Yet they export 190,000 kg and they sell it for $64,000,000.00 (figures from Ministry of Agriculture, 2010 Spanish Saffron Scandal “The Telegraph 4-12-2001). You divide 64 million into 190 kg and it comes to $336 kg, so how can they sell it at $336 kg, when Spanish saffron sold in 2010 for $3,500 kg and Iranian at $2,550kg? The Spanish Saffron Scandal is simply a problem of adulteration with artificial colors and not a mix with saffron from other countries as they want us to believe. Our laboratory reports and others point toward a massive adulteration with artificial colors. How can you mix 900 kg with 190,000? How much of it is Spanish saffron? How much is foreign? The adulteration is from Spain and nowhere else! When the Spanish saffron is “real”, the Spanish saffron parameters are laboratory documented to be inferior to Persian/Afghanistan saffron and therefore outrageously overpriced. You can buy 3 ounces of Afghanistan saffron for the cost of 1 oz of Spanish denomination of origin, $250.00 oz. Saffron quality can only be measured by photo spectrometry and while Spanish saffron hovers around 200 units of color (so they claim, they never show you a laboratory report) the Persian/Afghanistan is over 242.03+ units of color. It does not matter where the saffron is grown but it does matter how much of the yellow is removed and the more yellow you remove the better the quality of the saffron gets. We only sell the RED part of the saffron “the Coupe", All Red, or the Sargol the upper part of the stigmata. This is what happens when you do not remove the yellow: 1. You add to the weight from 35% to 57%+. The yellow has no saffron and no culinary value but adds weight. 2. The trapped moisture adds up to 12% additional weight to the saffron. 3. The yellow adds unnecessary weight by itself and the moisture it traps. More important this “trapped moisture” reduces the shelf life of the saffron and the saffron will turn “musty smell” that is why you have to “pan dry it” before you use it; but its too late because since the yellow was not removed before drying/curing you will never experience the full flavor of saffron in your saffron dish. In Persian/Afghanistan All RED Sargol saffron the yellow is removed at the beginning of the drying/curing period so that all the “moisture” evaporates and ONLY saffron remains in the “casing”. The result is a saffron with higher true parameters of color, aroma and flavor. Because the moisture evaporates at the open end (remember we remove the yellow) of the saffron “casings” the aroma of the saffron is a honey crisp clean, with an intense flavor that will be the delight of your dinning guest. The saffron is HARD and “crunchy” to the touch with true value and no unnecessary yellow cheating and of course longer shelf life.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spanish Saffron Scandal

Politics of the Palate Presentation

San Francisco 3/16/2011 By: Juan J. San Mames, www.saffron.com

San Francisco Professional Food Society, Le D’Escoffier and Baker’s Dozen

Spanish Saffron Exports: a Massive Adulteration with full knowledge of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and ICEX.

An open letter to the US consumer

Dear saffron Friends present today at the Politics of the Palate:

1. A simple check of the numbers given by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture to the different newspapers in Spain and UK points to a MASSIVE ADULTERATION of “saffron” coming out of Spain, and when we say ADULTERATION we mean with ARTIFICIAL COLORS, not a mix of Iranian or Greek or “lower grades” as Saffron packers try to make us believe now.

In the latest issue of SPAIN GOURMETOUR (# 81, January-April) they finally admit to what we had complained and reported to the Ministry of Agriculture in 2010. The Ministry is fully aware of all the aspects of the ADULTERATION and chooses to ignore it because the artificial color(s) adulteration is out of control. They have done nothing to stop it, even though we have presented them with actual laboratory reports made in the USA by a licensed, FDA-approved laboratory. The four Spanish samples, that we sent came back with artificial colors added. Their prices ranged from $80 to $168 per oz (28.35gr). This Spanish saffron adulteration continues in 2011 and even though the perpetrators are caught time and time again, since there are no sanctions against the Spanish saffron companies, the adulterations go on unchecked and at an alarming rate. The Ministry admits that 90% is adulterated, that may be true for the EU, but we are getting 99.99% adulteration in the USA. Here are some numbers to show that the saffron being exported out of Spain cannot be a mix, as they claim, but outright adulterated.

2. Saffron at $336.00 per kilo?

The Spanish Agriculture Ministry claims that in 2010, Spain shipped 190,000 kilos of saffron at a value of: $ 64,000,000.00, which divided into 190,000 kg comes to $336 per kg. How can you sell saffron at $336 kg when in 2010 the price for Spanish saffron was $3500kg and Iranian $2550kg?

If it was Iranian, as they claim, it should have cost at least $2550kg (this price is without profit). Therefore, this is not a MIX of Iranian and Spanish saffron(Spain only produces 800kg); their own numbers point toward MASSIVE ADULTERATION. There is no way you would purchase saffron at $2550kg and sell it for $336 kg. What they are shipping out of Spain is ADULTERATED, ARTIFICIALLY COLORED “saffron”. The newspapers claim that 90% was mixed or adulterated, but we can claim by the samples we had analyzed by a US lab, that 99.99% of the saffron shipped to the US from Spain is adulterated, again, not a “mix” as claimed but outright artificial adulteration. The worst part is that the consumers are being charged $9.60gr for this adulterated saffron or $9,600.00 per kg, when the cost to Spanish packers is 0.33 cents a gram or $336.00 kilo. This is immoral and dangerous because of the artificial substances involved and not declared on the label as required by the FDA. Not only can these substances cause allergic reactions, but some of them, like Ponceau, are forbidden by the FDA.

3. What is the saffron consumer to do?

For one thing after more than 35 years in the saffron business, the only recommendation I have is that you do not buy Spanish saffron, no matter who recommends it or who is selling it. The adulteration or mix of Spanish “saffron” is not new. For the last 25 years, US consumers have suffered mixes, adulterations and mislabeling by the Spanish saffron packers, year after year. The adulteration is happening in Spain and it is shipped out of Spain and nowhere else. It is outrageous that the same Spanish companies keep on adulterating and mixing and the Ministry of Agriculture or ICEX do nothing about it. Even SPAIN GOURMETOUR admits to the cheating and try to blame it on the Iranian “lower grade” saffron. The article talks about the Spanish saffron company that’s promoting “Pure, DO Spanish Saffron”, but this is the same company that in 2009 claimed to have exported 7,000 kg, when Spain produces less than 900kg! Who are they trying to FOOL! . Food adulteration is not only limited to saffron, it happens with jamon Iberico: 17,000 kg of it found in Seville; the same with olive oil. This is the norm in the Spanish food industry.

4. Quality checks with in the European Union?

Food or spice shipments within the EU are not checked, they move freely within the EU. They ship whatever they want out of Spain. Shipments of saffron can go from Valencia Spain, to London and on to the USA, without being subject to a laboratory check or any other inspection. Even if they check and find out that the product is adulterated, they do NOT fine the violator, he just re-ships again the same adulterated product another way. In Iran, on the other hand the inspectors “choose from the shipment” and if you are caught cheating, you are out of business, severely fined and you go to prison; that’s how controlled their saffron industry is.

5. DO or Denomination of Origin

This is another sham on the long history of Spanish saffron miss-information and adulteration. All that DO means is that the saffron is grown in Spain; it has NOTHING to do with the quality of the saffron and it is not subject to ISO-3632. This DO “association” had the arrogance of “inventing” their own saffron rule(s) Rule EN-45011. They are a self-governing body.

In other words, the foxes in charge of the chicken house. There is already and ISO-3632 standarsd (ISO=International Organization for Standardization) which ONLY the Iranians abide by and they are third party certified by the EU. None of the Spanish packers abide by the ISO-3632. When they show a lab report is always cooked: they go to the government laboratory with real saffron, but this sample has nothing to do with what they are shipping. Curiously, no Spanish saffron company accuses another one of cheating because they all have the finger on the pie or shall be said in the adulteration or mix. As Lincoln said,
You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” The Spanish saffron industry has been mixing and adulterating forever, and they think that they can keep on fooling the world, even when the adulterations are admitted at the Ministerial level. The Agricultural Ministry admitted to me to the adulteration; I have their e mail. I presented the Ministry with the US lab reports. Let’s be clear the Spanish saffron industry is NOT regulated by anyone; that is why they are able to continue the saffron adulteration at outrageous amount of 199,000 kg. Spain only produces 900kg or less. The adulteration is of unprecedented scale with artificial colors and I have the laboratory reports and so does the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture.

6. Where does the best saffron come from?

From Persian region of Iran and Afghanistan. Persian saffron has the oldest and most abundantly diversified DNA base. When Alexander the Great took his saffron bath and came out proclaiming himself as a living god, the Iranians had been cultivating saffron for thousands of years, and when it came to Spain in the 1100’s, it came from Iran/Persia. Today saffron from Persia Iran/Afghanistan is cultivated in small family farms with over 65,000 families for every 100,000 kg. In 2010, Iran produced over 250 tm. By virtue of its volume, Iran produces the best quality saffron and they are able to select from their astronomical production the best corms for the following crop, year after year, generation after generation since time immemorial.

7. Saffron is made into quality by removing the yellow stamen, which has no culinary value

When you remove the yellow part of the stigmata you have SARGOL, which means “top of the flower” in Farsi. Removing the yellow lets the Sargol breathe out the moisture and the “casing” wraps around the saffron as it dries out. It looks like a crayon under the microscope. The Spanish “experts” (like Mr. Garcia from the DO) say that Iranian threads are “thin” because of the intense corm farming (he’s never been to Iran); it shows you how little they know about their own saffron history or how little they want you to know about how to cure/dry saffron. At the beginning of the 1900’s the French chefs demanded that the Spanish saffron exporters sell them the saffron without the yellow. “COUPE” or “cut” in other words, they wanted only the RED or Sargol “top of the flower”. When you leave the yellow part, moisture is trapped and that is why you hear the “experts” talk about the “musty” smell of Spanish saffron. That mustiness is fungi, which spoil the saffron. However, in Spain they leave the yellow and the moisture for two reasons: First, moisture adds weight and second, yellow stamens add weight. So all this talk about “voluminous long” threads is hog wash. Saffron should be short ¼” to 3/8” , and all the yellow cut out, because again, it has no culinary value whatsoever. Furthermore, have you heard the recommendation of “putting the saffron to dry on a frying pan before use to get the moisture out”? This only happens with Spanish saffron, not with Iranian which as you have observed in your sample is all completely dry out.

While this yellow may look insignificant, the FSA (The British FDA) declared “The test of the “pure and genuine” saffron from Spain for sale in the UK was of poor quality and included, depending on the brand, between 40 and 90% of the worthless part of the flower” (The Telegraph, Jan 2011, “Spanish saffron scandal”)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Spanish Saffron Scandal

Finally, what I have been telling the industry, consumers, chefs and the media, has become international news: Spanish saffron packers have been importing saffron from Iran, mixing it, and passing it off as Spanish.

However, there is still one misconception that must be clarified: Iran does not export bad quality saffron, because they are not allowed to. All Iranian saffron exportations are tightly controlled, unlike Spain's.

Keeping this in mind, you can read about this scandal in the following publications, and my response below.





Here's the response I posted or e-mailed to the different publications:

"Had you read my “Consumer Guide to Saffron Purchasing” at www.saffron.com you would have been able to ask the right questions to the “Spanish growers” who all they do is misinform and use the media to push their agenda.
*Spanish saffron is no better than saffron grown in other countries; saffron is made into good quality by removing the yellow part and this is no done in Spain. Poor-imports do not come from Iran, Morocco or Greece; the fact is that these countries produce better quality than the saffron produced in Spain and that is because they have better quality controls, which are supervised by third parties in Europe (ISO-3632). What is true is that ALL the cheating, adulteration and misinformation comes out of Spain and nowhere else and newspapers like yours swallow line, hook and sinker from the “Spanish experts”. The fact is that Spain is a small producer, 300 to 900 kg maximum and the biggest cheater in the saffron industry, with full knowledge of the Spanish authorities that look the other way. The fact is that if you want to get good quality saffron your have to go Iran, Greece or Morocco and if you want to be cheated you go to Spain. We took four random samples of Spanish saffron sold in the USA market, low end to high end, sent them to a US, laboratory and all four came back with ARTIFICIAL COLORS ADDED. ASAJA can say all they want but the “rubbish” is “manufactured and exported out of Spain” and it is Spanish. Iranian saffron may cost half the price of Spanish but it has twice the quality of any Spanish as measured by ISO-3632 standards, which the Iranians abide by, and is certified by a third party. NONE of the Spanish ASAJA is. The Regulatory Commission of Origin of La Mancha, has a seal from the EU that says that the saffron is grown in that area of Spain (La Mancha) it has NOTHING to do with the quality of the saffron grown there. Furthermore, The Regulatory Commission of Origin of la Mancha is a “self regulated entity” that answers to no one and while they may follow ISO-3632 they do not summit to third party scrutiny; in other words “the fox is in charge of the chicken house”, end of the story. So in the future, do your research so you can inform your readers or give me a ring so I can give you the scoop. I estimate that 99.99% of the saffron reaching the USA out of Spain has artificial colors added all you have to do is by on line the samples or go to your near Indian store and purchase some Spanish saffron and send it to the lab. *Saffron consist of stigmata which is the red part; you will find the Iranian and Greek saffron is all RED, Sargol “top of the flower” as the Iranians call it or “COUPE” , as it used to be sold by Spain to the French chefs to avoid the cheating. When you cut out the yellow, the red part breathes out the moisture creating TRUE aromatic saffron. In Spain, they sell you the yellow attached to trap the moisture and add more weight, reducing thus the shelf life of the saffron and getting the pungent smell that comes from the trapped moisture, which produces fungi. Another trick is to extract the saffron out and tint the whole stigma and stamen with artificial colors, and yes, that is what they are selling in ALL over the USA, and it’s not the Iranians, Greeks or Moroccans, it is the Spanish exporters. The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Tourism admitted in his letter to me that there is nothing they can do about the cheating and there are no sanctions of any kind even when caught time and time again.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lower Saffron Prices, same High Quality!

Open Letter to our: Chef, Baker or Specialty Food buyer.

Thank you for visiting our booth at the NASFT in San Francisco, Feb 16, 18 as you know, we are not abut fancy labels but about quality saffron, vanilla extract and vanilla beans of which we import over 125mt from all over the world. That is why we have the best quality and best prices We also carry vanilla extract, which is made with our own vanilla beans so yes, we put more vanilla beans than the 13.35 oz required by law that why our extract is always more flavorful.

Saffron. We are the first company in the USA that has imported saffron from Afghanistan in the effort to switch opium farmers to saffron and help improve the lives of farmers and saving the lives of our troops. Not only have we gone from 242.03 units of color to over 250 but we have lowered the price of saffron from $99.00 per oz to $79.95. For those of you who are being deceived by the “Spanish saffron packers and US., importers and distributors” let me tell you that of 4 Spanish samples we took to the laboratory (a US lab) all 4 came back with ARTIFICIAL COLORS ADDED, both low end and high end “saffron”. One of the samples was $84.00 per ½ oz and like the others it had artificial colors added in blatant violation of FDA regulations.

You have choices and you do not have to pay saffron prices for something that is NOT saffron. We are the ONLY Company in the USA which has brought you true saffron with laboratory report and kosher certification. Did you ever ask yourself why these Spanish saffron do not have kosher certification? Because it is not saffron, just something that looks like saffron in a petty box full of artificial colors. Spain only producers 300 kg of saffron and Spanish packers dump in the USA over 4,000 kilos of adulterated saffron at the cost of real saffron. Chef, you do not have to take this abuse. USA distributors who are selling this garbage know exactly what is going on, they just play along for profit. If you pay for saffron, that is what you should get but you don’t. Call me and experience the real flavor of saffron that comes from Crocus Sativus L instead of color 5, 6, Ponceau and Carmosine packed in those pretty boxes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Saffron: The Good, the Bad and the Disturbing

As you may have seen, the health benefits of saffron are all over the media. From Alzheimers to cancer, from weight control to blindness prevention to fighting depresion, research about saffron's medicinal properties is coming up with promising results.

These of course, are good news, especially because only a little dose of saffron seems to be needed to obtain these beneficial effects. Unfortunately, such wonderful news come accompanied by a two very negative side effects:

First, more bad and even adulterated saffron will keep coming into the US market and all of it from Spain. Indeed, as demand increases, so will the greediness of unscrupulous packers. As you can read on my previous post, I sent several samples of saffron for testing a US laboratory and all came back with artificial colorants, one of which is banned by FDA for use in the US.

The second effect, and this is really disturbing, is that more people are likely to consume this adulterated saffron and more frequently. At best, these people may just be wasting their money; at worst, they may find themselves ingesting allergenic colorants and worse. Considering that many of these persons may already have health issues, the cure they seek may actually put them at risk: for instance, saffron is sometimes recommended to relieve asthma, but Ponceau 4R (which we found in at least one sample) may intensify asthma sympots.

So, what can you do to benefit from saffron and avoid these risks?

First, request a laboratory report from your purveyor every time you purchase saffron.
Don't rely on price: adulteration comes with high and low prices alike.

In view of the health news, there will be lots of companies trying to sell you "saffron". Again, ask for a lab report and don't trust anybody, even if they have been in business a hundred years selling saffron. The cheating is rampant.

Whether you are an indivual consumer or an industrial user, make sure your saffron is laboratory tested in the US. Certified Laboratories, Inc. does the HPLC Analysis for added colors for $150.00 . http://www.certified-laboratories.com/

At this time, only Iranian saffron can be trusted, but again, make sure you get a laboratory report, not only from the country of origion, but from a US lab.

If you have any questions about saffron quality and culinary applications, please contact us. If you want to use it for medical purposes, consult your health provider first. Then come to us to get pure saffron, Kosher certified and US laboratory tested

Below are some sites where you can find information about the health benefits of saffron:





Friday, October 15, 2010

Spanish saffron...is it really saffron?

At the beginning of January, I started noticing something different about Spanish Saffron: the threads were all red, in varying shades, from the tip to the base, with no yellow or white at all. There were also shorter pieces, red and orange, that really didn’t really look like threads. Savy consumers know that good saffron must be all red, but since the yellow is cut off, the threads cannot be very long and all red. They are supposed to be short, “coupĂ©”. I suspected something was not right, so I decided to send four different samples of Spanish Saffron to an American Laboratory, to test for artificial colorants. The testing follows ISO TC 34/SC7 HPLC method looks for 13 artificial colorants.

Knowing as I do the tricks of the Spanish packers, I was not surprised with the results I got. They all came back with ARTIFICIAL COLORANTS

According to the FDA all artifical colorants used in a product have to be declared on the label, and when you use any artificial chemical the product becomes artificial.

These are our findings:

Sample 1: Yellow Sunset (Yellow # 6) at 11 ppm.

Product: “THE HARVEST OF SAFFRON”, 100% Pure Spanish Saffron

Net weight 1 oz. Best before 2017 (Product of Spain)

Sample 2: Yellow Sunset (Yellow # 6) at 23 ppm.


Sample 3: Yellow Sunset S (Yellow # 6) at 18 ppm, tartrazine (Yellow #5) at 1.3 ppm and Ponceau 4R at 21 ppm. (Ponceau 4R is banned by FDA to be used in food, in the US)

Don Quijote 100% PURE SPANISH SAFFRON SUPERIOR QUALITY. (Product of Spain)

Sample 4 Quinoline Yellow #10 at 1.3ppm, and Carmoisine at 0.1ppm.

100% PURE SPANISH SAFFRON. Pack: Feb. 2010 (Product of Spain)

Of course we also sent our Golden Gate Brand, Iranian saffron. The HPLC analysis of our sample determined the ABSENCE of any artificial colors.

Obviously, if they had any good saffron at all, they wouldn’t need to dye it. So thquestion is, what are they dying? Saffron is all about natural color, flavor and aroma, but what are you getting when you buy this?

The cost of our PURE saffron is $99.00 per ounce (28.35 grams). The artificial saffron from Spain ranges from $82.00 to $168.00 per oz.

If you have any technical questions, for any application, please contact me. We have been in business for more than 30 years.