UK food standards body sees no nutritional difference in organic

Posted by Isobel Drake on 30th July 2009

The UK’s food watchdog believes there are “no important differences in the nutrition content, or any additional health benefits” of organic food when compared with conventionally produced food, after receiving the results of an independent review. The focus of the review, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), was the nutritional content of foodstuffs.

Gill Fine, FSA Director of Consumer Choice and Dietary Health, said that the study did not suggest organic food wasn’t worth buying, merely there was no current proof of significant nutritional benefit.

“Ensuring people have accurate information is absolutely essential in allowing us all to make informed choices about the food we eat,” she said. “This study does not mean that people should not eat organic food. What it shows is that there is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced food and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food.”

“The Agency supports consumer choice and is neither pro nor anti organic food. We recognise that there are many reasons why people choose to eat organic, such as animal welfare or environmental concerns.”

The study involved a review of all papers published over the past 50 years that related to the nutrient content and health differences between organic and conventional food, with the FSA suggesting it was the most comprehensive study carried out in the sector to date.

Dr Dangour, of the LSHTM’s Nutrition and Public Health Intervention Research Unit and principal author of the paper, said the minor differences could not be considered significant.

“A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance.”

The review can be found here.