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A comparison of the nutritional value, sensory qualities, and food safety of organically and conventionally produced foods

Bourn, D., Prescott, J.
Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 2002 v.42 no.1 pp. 1-34
foods, organic foods, food composition, nutrient content, food safety, organic production, food industry, consumer attitudes, consumer preferences, crop production, retail marketing, fertilizers, organic fertilizers, data analysis, animal feeding, animal health, food contamination, microbial contamination, food research, human health, New Zealand
Given the significant increase in consumer interest in organic food products, there is a need to determine to what extent there is a scientific basis for claims made for organic produce. Studies comparing foods derived from organic and conventional growing systems were assessed for three key areas: nutritional value, sensory quality, and food safety. It is evident from this assessment that there are few well-controlled studies that are capable of making a valid comparison. With the possible exception of nitrate content, there is no strong evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in concentrations of various nutrients. Considerations of the impact of organic growing systems on nutrient bioavailability and nonnutrient components have received little attention and are important directions for future research. While there are reports indicating that organic and conventional fruits and vegetables may differ on a variety of sensory qualities, the findings are inconsistent. In future studies, the possibility that typical organic distribution or harvesting systems may deliver products differing in freshness or maturity should be evaluated. There is no evidence that organic foods may be more susceptible to microbiological contamination than conventional foods. While it is likely that organically grown foods are lower in pesticide residues, there has been very little documentation of residue levels.