Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BRITISH GOVERNMENT STUDY FINDS ORGANIC ITEMS NO BETTER THAN ORDINARY FOOD

BBC - Organic food is no healthier than ordinary food, a large independent review has concluded. There is little difference in nutritional value and no evidence of any extra health benefits from eating organic produce, UK researchers found. The Food Standards Agency who commissioned the report said the findings would help people make an "informed choice".

But the Soil Association criticized the study and called for better research.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked at all the evidence on nutrition and health benefits from the past 50 years.

Without large-scale, longitudinal research it is difficult to come to far-reaching clear conclusions on this, which was acknowledged by the authors of the FSA review Peter Melchett, Soil Association

Among the 55 of 162 studies that were included in the final analysis, there were a small number of differences in nutrition between organic and conventionally produced food but not large enough to be of any public health relevance, said study leader Dr Alan Dangour.

Overall the report, which is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found no differences in most nutrients in organically or conventionally grown crops, including in vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

The same was true for studies looking at meat, dairy and eggs.

Differences that were detected, for example in levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, were most likely to be due to differences in fertilizer use and ripeness at harvest and are unlikely to provide any health benefit, the report concluded. . .

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association said they were disappointed with the conclusions.

"The review rejected almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences.

"Although the researchers say that the differences between organic and non-organic food are not 'important', due to the relatively few studies, they report in their analysis that there are higher levels of beneficial nutrients in organic compared to non-organic foods.

"Without large-scale, longitudinal research it is difficult to come to far-reaching clear conclusions on this, which was acknowledged by the authors of the FSA review.

"Also, there is not sufficient research on the long-term effects of pesticides on human health," he added.

Wikipedia - The Food Standards Agency is a non-ministerial government department of the government of the United Kingdom. It is responsible for protecting public health in relation to food throughout the United Kingdom and is led by an appointed board that is intended to act in the public interest. . .

It was created in 2000 based on a report issued after a number of high-profile outbreaks and deaths from foodborne illness. It was felt that it was inappropriate to have one government department, the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, responsible for both the health of the farming and food processing industries and also for food safety.

Uniquely for a UK Government department, the Food Standards Act gave the agency the statutory right to publish the advice it gives to ministers - and as a signal of its independence it declared that it would invariably do so. From its inception the Agency declared that it would take no decisions about food policy except in open board meetings accessible to the public. Since 2003 these meetings have been webcast live, enabling consumers to see the decision-making process in action. Each board meeting concludes with a Q&A session in which web viewers can question the Board or its Executive directly.

On 31 March 2006, it published its "Survey of benzene levels in soft drinks", which tested 150 products and found that four contained benzene levels above the World Health Organization guidelines for drinking water. The Agency asked for these to be removed from sale.

The FSA pushed for stricter rules on TV advertising to children of foods high in salt, sugar and fat and devised a nutritional profiling system to measure the balance of benefit and detriment in individual food products.