Last week, I picked up a bag of Dragon Brand licorice root -- and noticed that something was terribly wrong when I went to use it. First off, the color was wrong. But the real red flag came when I took a sip of the decoction I'd brewed. The flavor was nothing like licorice. It was overpoweringly acrid, and actually left a slight burning sensation in my throat when I swallowed the brew.
If you click on the photo below, you'll see the offending product on the left, with a bag of "the good stuff" on the right. The bark of the Dragon Brand is darker and redder than it should be, and the flesh is a little too yellowish. The odor isn't right, either. I'm not sure if somone at the factory slipped up and packaged the wrong herb, or if someone went gung-ho with the preservatives (sulfur dioxide, according to the label), thereby causing the acrid taste and odor. Unofortunately, there's no lot-number on the package, so I'd caution the reader just to avoid the stuff unti the company gets its doo-doo together.
The bag of Green Day Brand was only thirty cents more, and as you can see, the product looks (and tastes, although you can't see that, naturally) exactly as it should.