, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 33-41

Nutritional quality and safety of organic food. A review

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Abstract

Food security, nutritional quality and safety vary widely around the world. Reaching these three goals is one of the major challenges for the near future. Up to now, industrialized production methods have clearly shown severe limitations such as a worldwide contamination of the food chain and water by persistent pesticide residues, and reduced nutrient and flavor contents through low-cost intensive food production and/or processing. In line with several published literature reviews, the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) performed under my coordination an up-to-date exhaustive and critical evaluation of the nutritional and sanitary quality of organic food. This review is based on the AFSSA report issued and recently published studies. The major points are: 1/ organic plant products contain more dry matter and minerals (Fe, Mg); and contain more anti-oxidant micronutrients such as phenols and salicylic acid, 2/ organic animal products contain more polyunsaturated fatty acids, 3/ data on carbohydrate, protein and vitamin levels are insufficiently documented, 4/ 94–100% of organic food does not contain any pesticide residues, 5/ organic vegetables contain far less nitrates, about 50% less; and 6/ organic cereals contain overall similar levels of mycotoxins as conventional ones. Thus, organic agricultural systems have already proved able to produce food with high quality standards. I propose also improvements of organic production to achieve sustainable food production for humans in the near future.