Review Article Questions Nutritional Superiority Claims for Organic Food

April 30, 2010


Mindy Weinstein

Review Article Questions Nutritional Superiority Claims for Organic Food

CHICAGO—Many studies have explored the nutritional value of organic food and conventional food. But the author of a new paper says that research does not support claims that organic food products are nutritionally superior to conventional products.

In a review of numerous articles on organic food, Joseph D. Rosen, PhD, emeritus professor of food toxicology at Rutgers University, says proponents of organic food have pointed to studies that support their assertions that organic food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food. However, many of these studies are not published in peer-reviewed journals and are based on results that are not statistically significant. Given these limitations, a review of the scientific literature by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was unable to find any scientific evidence for the nutritional superiority of crops grown either organically or conventionally.

Dr. Rosen also points out that many studies have found that the year the crops were grown is an important factor in the concentration of nutrients in those crops. Since the vast majority of the studies cited by organic food proponents were conducted for only one year, he said it raises questions about the results of these studies.

In October 2007, the University of Newcastle reported huge increases in important nutrients for organic food that was grown alongside conventional food. While these findings were promoted widely, Dr. Rosen notes that the research was never published in a peer-reviewed publication.

In the United States, the Organic Center published a report in March 2008 that claimed that organic food was 25 percent more nutritious than conventional food. But that report suffered from several important limitations, including designating nitrate, (found at higher concentrations in conventional food), as unhealthy. Research published recently has shown that nitrate may have health benefits.

The author concluded that organic food may not be worth the extra cost to consumers that purchase these products with the belief it contains more healthful nutrients than conventional food.

For interviews on this review, the media can contact Dr. Rosen at 732-828-7046 or This review was published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.

To read the comprehensive review, visit:

Editors Note: The Institute of Food Technologists developed a Scientific Status Summary that reviewed the current science surrounding “Organic Foods,” which was published in the November/December 2006 edition of the Journal of Food Science. For more information visit, or email