Quality is established by chemical composition, physicochemical and microbiological properties and it can not be determined by the consumer. They can only be known through analytical determinations. Consumers must trust in the fact that saffron fulfill saffron regulations when they chosse a saffron spice. This is the reason why it is neccessary to have rules covering the different aspects concerning saffron parameters and identifing possible fraudes.
Following, you will find the international and national current rules European countries use to certify saffron quality
ISO/TS 3632 - 1 and 2 (2003) Technical Specification
This Specification is the most exhaustive in regard to the parameters exacted for saffron, so it is used to certify saffron in almost all international commercial transactions.
The norm ISO/TS 3632 regulates the purity and quality of saffron. It is the main tool to fight against the fraud. However it does not take into account any reliable analytical technique to detect basic colorants and natural pigments to combat the fraud. Another important gap this norm presents, it is the absence of any methodology to determine microbiological contamination. For this reason, it is necesary this norm be implemented by the normalisation and standardization associations by means of the corresponding ISO Secretary.
Apart from the International regulations (ISO 3632 is the most recent one) which is voluntary for the most part of countries, each country has its own obligatory regulations. For example, In Spain, apart from the Technical Specification ISO / TS 3632 that determines saffron quality, there are other standards, regulations and technical specifications which all enterprises and producers of the sector have to comply:
▬ Saffron quality standard for foreign trading (NCCEA 1988, 1999): defines saffron qualities and specifications for export.
▬ Technical health regulation for treatment, circulation and distribution of spices (RTS 1984): defines the features for imported saffron spices destined for the Spanish market.
▬ Designation of Origin “La Mancha saffron” (PDO 1999): defines the specifications for saffron protected by its origin. Applied to saffron, produced and dried in the region of Castile La-Mancha.
▬ Technical specification for the use of the term “Food quality” for “Aragon saffron” (RT 2003): defines the specifications for saffron deriving from specific regions of Aragon.
Each standard or regulation has its own technical specifications and definitions regarding categories and various parameter values.