Dear Friends and Colleagues
Organic Meat and Products More Nutritious Than Non-Organic
A new meta-analysis based on 67 published studies comparing the composition of organic and non-organic meat products has found that organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic. In addition to organic milk and meat, the nutritional differences also apply to organic dairy products like butter, cream, cheese and yoghurt. The study is the largest systematic review of its kind and was led by Newcastle University with an international team of experts.
The researchers suggest that the higher Omega 3 content is because organic animals have to eat a more natural grass-based diet containing high levels of clover, which is used in organic farming to fix nitrogen (in place of chemical fertilizers). The study had found that clover increases the Omega 3 concentrations in meat and milk.
The analysis also showed that organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats linked to heart disease; organic milk and dairy contained 40% more conjugated linoleic acid which is linked to health benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease; and organic milk and dairy contained slightly higher concentrations of iron, Vitamin E and some carotenoids. While past studies had found organic milk to contain less iodine than non-organic milk, the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative of the UK announced that in 2015 and 2016 organic milk had achieved iodine levels comparable to conventional.
In an earlier meta-analysis of 343 studies in 2014, research found that organically grown crops contained significantly higher concentrations of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and lower levels of undesirable cadmium and pesticide residues.
With best wishes
COMPOSITION DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ORGANIC AND CONVENTIONAL MEAT: A SYSTEMATIC LITERATURE REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS
Demand for organic meat is partially driven by consumer perceptions that organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic foods. However, there have been no systematic reviews comparing specifically the nutrient content of organic and conventionally produced meat. In this study, we report results of a meta-analysis based on sixty-seven published studies comparing the composition of organic and non-organic meat products. For many nutritionally relevant compounds (e.g. minerals, antioxidants and most individual fatty acids (FA)), the evidence base was too weak for meaningful meta-analyses. However, significant differences in FA profiles were detected when data from all livestock species were pooled. Concentrations of SFA and MUFA were similar or slightly lower, respectively, in organic compared with conventional meat. Larger differences were detected for total PUFA and n-3 PUFA, which were an estimated 23 (95% CI 11, 35)% and 47 (95 % CI 10, 84)% higher in organic meat, respectively . However, for these and many other composition parameters, for which meta-analyses found significant differences, heterogeneity was high, and this could be explained by differences between animal species/meat types. Evidence from controlled experimental studies indicates that the high grazing/forage-based diets prescribed under organic farming standards may be the main reason for differences in FA profiles. Further studies are required to enable meta-analyses for a wider range of parameters (e.g. antioxidant, vitamin and mineral concentrations) and to improve both precision and consistency of results for FA profiles for all species. Potential impacts of composition differences on human health are discussed.
GROUND-BREAKING NEW STUDY FINDS CLEAR NUTRITIONAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ORGANIC AND NON-ORGANIC MILK AND MEAT
A new study published today, 16 February 2016, in the British Journal of Nutrition shows organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic. In addition to organic milk and meat, the nutritional differences also apply to organic dairy like butter, cream, cheese and yoghurt. The study is the largest systematic reviews of its kind and led by Newcastle University and an international team of experts.
- organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats linked to heart disease
- organic milk and dairy contains 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) - CLA has been linked to a range of health benefits including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and obesity, but evidence is mainly from animal studies
- organic milk and dairy contains slightly higher concentrations of iron, Vitamin E and some carotenoids
- organic milk contains less iodine than non-organic milk
about the research, Helen Browning, chief executive of the Soil Association
said, “This research confirms what many people have always
thought was true -what you feed farm animals and how you treat them
affects the quality of the food - whether it’s milk, cheese or a cut
of meat. These scientists have shown that all the hard work organic
farmers put into caring for their animals pays off in the quality
of the food they produce - giving real value for money.
The difference in Omega 3 is because organic animals have to eat a more natural grass-based diet containing high levels of clover. Clover is used in organic farming to fix nitrogen so that crops and grass grow (instead of manufactured/chemical fertilisers), and this research has found that clover also increases the Omega 3 concentrations in meat and milk. Under organic standards, organic cows must eat a 60% fresh grass based diet or hay/silage (conserved grass).
Historic research highlighted that organic milk contained less iodine. However, the industry has taken steps to address this. OMSCo (the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative) representing over 65% of the UK's organic milk supply, announced that in 2015 organic milk had achieved comparable levels of iodine to conventional and in 2016, following recent testing of bottled milk, they announced these levels of iodine have been maintained. Richard Hampton, managing director at OMSCo, said; “We initiated projects to boost iodine levels and applied these to our farmer members’ enterprises, and by early 2015 we announced that we’d achieved comparable levels with those in the conventional market. Our latest results have shown that one year on from the initial milestone we’re maintaining those levels.”
Richard Smith, senior farms manager from organic meat producers Daylesford Organic, said; “We farm organic red meat on a grass-based, home-grown forage diet which delivers a superb quality. In addition to other benefits of producing food in an organic system, this land-mark paper now also confirms what we've always known; there is also a significant nutritional difference between organic and non-organic.”