Saffron is the most expensive spice on the international market, and as such is considered the most vulnerable to adulteration and fraud. The most common adulterants such as safflower, marigold and tumeric cannot be detected in the ISO specified certification system examining the aroma, flavour and colour of saffron even at the 20% w/w level. This study aimed to develop a rapid, untargeted and sensitive method to authenticate saffron based on direct analysis in real time (DART) using an ambient ionisation source with an Orbitrap high resolution mass spectrometer (HRMS) to detect adulteration by safflower and/or tumeric. Chemometric analysis permitted discrimination of the metabolic profile under optimised DART-HRMS conditions permitting discrimination of these adulterants down to the 5% level.

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