Organically produced foods are not nutritionally superior to conventionally produced foodstuffs, according to researchers.
Consumers appear willing to pay higher prices for organic foods based on their perceived health and nutrition benefits, however, the new study from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found no evidence for superior nutritional content of organic food.
During the review, a total of 162 relevant studies were compared for nutrient content of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs.
For 10 out of the 13 nutrient categories analysed, there were no significant differences between production methods in nutrient content.
The differences that were detected were most likely to be due to differences in fertilizer use (nitrogen, phosphorus), and ripeness at harvest (acidity), and it is unlikely that consuming these nutrients at the levels reported in organic foods would provide any health benefit.
"A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance," said Alan Dangour, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's Nutrition and Public Health Intervention Research Unit, and one of the report's authors.
"Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.
"Research in this area would benefit from greater scientific rigour and a better understanding of the various factors that determine the nutrient content of foodstuffs," Dangour added.
The study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.