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Fake saffron discovery in West Sussex sparks international investigation

The discovery of fake saffron being sold in West Sussex has resulted in an international investigation and the seizure of almost 90kg of the product from a factory in Spain.

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Saffron laced with other lower quality ingredients was found in outlets in the county by West Sussex Trading Standards service.

Officers carried out testing on ten samples of the product and seven were adulterated with cheaper plant fibres.

Many of the samples originated from Spain so Trading Standards reported the findings to the Food Standards Agency who then alerted the Spanish Authorities.

Almost 90kg of adulterated saffron worth between £600,000 and £750,000 was seized from a clandestine factory in Alicante, Spain. Two individuals were arrested.

Genuine saffron sells for £6 to £8 per gram.

The method of adulteration usually consists of mixing the pure saffron fibres with other cheaper fibres.

Peter Aston, Trading Standards Team Manager, said:

“Genuine saffron isan expensive product so the potential to make money from adulteration is high.

“This is an excellent result for our Trading Standards service which has led to an international investigation and the discovery of thousands of pounds worth of adulterated saffron.”

Jacquie Russell, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said:

“Deceiving customers through the sale of adulterated saffron is a serious offence, hurting both innocent buyers and legitimate businesses.

“I would like to thank our Trading Standards team for their hard work which resulted in this international investigation.”

Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of an unfair trading practice, should contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06 or online via www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport.

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Police increase presence across Crawley after four women grabbed or harassed by men

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Police are stepping up patrols in areas of Crawley after reports of women being approached by men in the town.

Officers are investigating a number of reports from the past week, but do not believe that all of the incidents are linked.

The first report involved a woman jogging in Grattons Park around 10am on Thursday (May 21). She was heading along a pathway towards Peterhouse Parade when a man appeared from the bushes and made an attempt to grab her around the waist.

The victim managed to evade the suspect, described as white, around 50 years old, with grey hair and a flushed face.

Around 7pm on Monday (May 25), a second woman was jogging on Three Bridges Road, Crawley, when she was approached by a man who put both arms around her waist. The woman was able to break free and run to safety.

This suspect is described as black, around 5′ 8″ and wearing a winter coat and black rucksack.

Two further reports were made to police on Tuesday (May 27) of women being approached by a man in the Northgate area of the town.

The first happened on The Parade around 6pm and the other at Woodfield Road Playing Field around 6.30pm.

In both cases, the women reported being harassed by a man who was asking a lot of unusual questions and standing too close. No physical contact was made.

The man was described as Asian, in his 30s, around 6′ tall, of slim build and with a black beard. He was reported to be wearing a hat – possibly a sports cap – and casual clothing, including colourful, modern trainers.

Chief Inspector Shane Baker, district commander for Crawley, said:

“We understand these incidents are very worrying for those involved, and for those who live in the area.

“At this time, we are treating these as isolated incidents. We are investigating each case and following all reasonable lines of enquiry to find those responsible.

“Our officers are conducting high-visibility patrols in the town and we continue to encourage people to report any suspicious behaviour to us so we can act accordingly.”

Anyone with information about any of these incidents are asked to report to police online or by calling 101.

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