There is no evidence to support claims that organic dairy products offer more nutritional benefits to children than conventionally-produced food, a US paediatric study has claimed.
According to research conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there is no direct proof that consuming organic produce leads to improved health or a lower risk of disease – as is commonly believed.
In the report, Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages, the AAP claims that milk generally contains the same protein, vitamins, minerals and lipids whether it is produced organically or conventionally.
The study, which reviewed the health and environmental issues related to organic food production and consumption, added that parental concerns about the use of growth hormones (GH) and oestrogen in conventionally reared cows are misguided.
No definitive evidence
“Consumers believe that organic produce is more nutritious than conventionally grown produce, but the research to support that belief is not definitive,” said the AAP study.
“In general, milk has the same protein, vitamin, trace mineral content, and lipids from both organically and conventionally reared cows.”
Many parents buy organic milk, which often cost up to 40% more, over concerns about growth hormones (GH) and oestrogen – substances that are often given to conventionally-raised cows.
Despite the concerns, the AAP report claims that bovine GH has no detrimental effect on humans.
“There is no evidence that conventional milk contains significantly increased amounts of bovine GH. Any bovine GH that might remain in conventional milk is not biologically active in humans because of structural differences and susceptibility to digestion in the stomach.”
Ingestion of milk from oestrogen-treated cows also appears to be safe for children, the report added.
According to the AAP report, studies have not demonstrated any detrimental or disease-promoting effects from an organic diet.
“In terms of health advantages, organic diets have been convincingly demonstrated to expose consumers to fewer pesticides associated with human disease,” the report conceded.
“However, current evidence does not support any meaningful nutritional benefits or deficits from eating organic compared with conventionally grown foods, and there are no well-powered human studies that directly demonstrate health benefits or disease protection as a result of consuming an organic diet,” it added.