Institute of Food Science & Technology
The Voice of the Food Profession
The last two decades have seen significantly increased interest in organic food, that is, food grown using husbandry principles and techniques that predates the introduction of modern agrochemicals and intensive farming methods. These husbandry principles are now applied with the benefit of modern scientific understanding and technologies to give a supposedly sustainable system of food production. However organic food production, like all other food production systems in the developed world, is still water-dependent and largely dependent on non-renewable fossil fuels for production, transport and processing.
Organic food is a small sector of the food industry with an identity defined and protected by law in many countries. In recent years it has been growing but in the current economic climate its growth in the UK has declined, although other EU and non-EU countries are still experiencing growth. Its existence provides an element of consumer choice.
Organic food is likely to contain lower residues of agricultural chemicals than its non-organic counterpart.
The use of animal waste as fertiliser, whether in producing organic or non-organic food, needs to be properly managed, but even so it may pose a risk of contamination with pathogens, and consequent food poisoning from foods which are to be consumed without adequate, or any, cooking. In particular, fruit and salad vegetables, whether organic or non-organic, for consumption without cooking, should be thoroughly washed before consumption, and the public should be advised to do so by display notices and on consumer pre-packs.
A comprehensive review has shown that there is no significant nutritional or health difference between organic food and that conventionally produced1. However organic food is a system of production that is intended to deliver a wide range of benefits to the environment, wildlife, animal welfare and human health, and consumer choice for its consumption is often based on a range of points.
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