French Research Gives Boost to Organic Food

September 14th, 2009

Australian Food News
Isobel Drake

A recent report by the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) has suggested that organic foods are more nutritious just a month after a UK report argued there was currently little evidence to indicate that organic food had additional health benefits compared to conventionally produced food.

Shane Heaton, Nutritionist for the Biological Farmers of Australia, said the French research was a thorough and critical evaluation of the nutritional quality of organic food, and has found organic foods have higher levels of minerals and antioxidants as well as a number of other benefits.

“This is what an unbiased review of the available evidence reveals,” he claimed. “Contrary to another recently released review commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency and widely reported in the media as showing organic food has no significant benefits over non-organic food.”

“This review does the question justice by comparing not just a handful of nutrients but also dry matter content, antioxidant content, pesticide levels, and nitrate content. Organic wins out over ordinary food in every respect.”

In 2001, the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) set up an expert working group to perform an evaluation of the nutritional and sanitary quality of organic food. The AFSSA says they aimed for the highest quality scientific standards during the evaluation.

“The French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) has published an up-to-date exhaustive and critical evaluation of the nutritional quality of organic food and has found organic foods have higher levels of minerals and antioxidants,” Andre Leu, Chairman of the Organic Federation of Australia, stated. “The AFSSA study has been published in the peer reviewed scientific journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development ensuring that it has met rigorous scientific standards.”

The major points of The French Agency for Food Safety study are:

1. Organic plant products contain more dry matter (more nutrient dense)

2. Organic plant products have higher levels of minerals

3. Organic plant products contain more anti-oxidants such as phenols and salicylic acid (known to protect against cancers, heart disease and many other health problems)

4. Carbohydrate, protein and vitamin levels are insufficiently documented

5. 94-100% of organic foods do not contain any pesticide residues

6. Organic vegetables contain far less nitrates, about 50% less

7. Organic cereals contain similar levels of mycotoxins as conventional ones

8. Organically-bred cattle have more lean meat and more polyunsaturated fatty acids than their conventional counterparts

9. Organic chicken fillets contain 2-3 times less fat and are significantly higher in n-3 fatty acid content (with reported anti-cancer effects and other health benefits).

The full scientific report can be found at swroc.cfans.umn.edu/organic/ASD_Lairon_2009.pdf

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