The saffron filaments used to make the spice are dried stigmas of the saffron flower – Crocus sativus Linneaus. The filaments must be picked from each flower by hand and each flower contains only three stigmas. This laborious process means that to produce one kilo of saffron filaments, more than 75 000 flowers are needed.

ISO 3632-2 specifies the various test methods that can be used, the procedures, apparatus, reagents to be used and interpretation of the results. This ensures that the test methods and procedures are standardized and carried out with the exact precision for homogeneity in testing. The standard will be useful for food testing laboratories and food regulators.

ISO 3632-2 has also taken into consideration different forms of saffron – filaments and cut filaments and powder. Therefore, test methods and sample sizes have been written specifically for these different forms of saffron.

“The test methods in the ISO 3632-2 standard form very essential and precise guidelines which determine how food laboratories can test saffron filaments and cut filaments and in powder form," says Vattavayalil Joseph Kurian, leader of the group of ISO experts who developed the standard.

"The consistency in testing will separate out pure saffron, and this gives consumers the assurance and confidence that the saffron they purchase and use in the food cooked is authentic and safe to consume.”

ISO 3632-2:2010, Spices – Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) – Part 2: Test methods, was developed ISO technical committee ISO/TC 34, Food products, subcommittee SC 7, Spices, culinary herbs and condiments, and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 136 Swiss francs through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department (see right-hand column).