Organic food quality

By Kevin Flores,2014-05-20 13:01
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Organic food quality

    Organic food quality

    axioms and ambiguities

    Ewa Rembiałkowska

    Abstract - During last decades the consumer years with growth rates of 30 to 50% per annum trust in food quality has drastically decreased, (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs mainly because of the growing ecological 2003). In Europe Germany has the largest market of awareness and several food scandals. organic foods (Meier-Ploeger 2005). It is estimated Consumers started to look for safer and better that in 2004 compared to 2003 the turn over controlled foods, produced in more expanded by 13% (3,5 billion ?) and the growth is environmentally friendly system. ongoing in 2005. Therefore Germany is the second Organically produced foods are widely important market for organic food in the world believed to satisfy the above demands; up to (United States No 1). now research studies have partly confirmed The main reason is growing demand of the this opinion. consumers seeking more safe and controlled Organic crops contain fewer nitrates and foodstuffs, and consumer concern about healthy nitrites and fewer residues of pesticides than environment and life. conventional ones. They contain as a rule more Organic farming is often regarded as a system dry matter, vitamin C, phenolic compounds, improving crops quality. The rules of organic plant valuable amino acids and total sugars; and animal production have fundamental impact on however the level of carotenoids is often the products, directly extorting higher safety level in higher in conventional plant products. Organic the content of produced raw materials, mainly crops contain often more mineral compounds; because they forbid the use of several chemical they have usually better sensory and storage compounds commonly used in conventional quality. Farm animals from organic herds and agriculture. It’s important to remember that only small experimental mammals fed organically high efficiency of the control and certification system show often better health and fertility can fully guarantee high quality of organic raw parameters. products. However, there are also some negatives: Similarly, only following the regulation on organic plant and animal production in organic system food processing together with the efficient control show lower yield than in conventional system can provide the best final quality of the production. Several important problems need organic processed foods. to be investigated and settled in coming years: environmental contamination of the organic crops, bacterial and fungi contamination. The impact of the organic food consumption on human health and well being still remains CONCLUSIONS unknown and needs explanation.The studies conducted during last decades, reviewed and analysed in several review papers [Brandt and Mølgaard, 2001; Lund and Algers, 2003; Lundegårdh and Mårtensson, 2003; Meier-Ploeger 2005, 1 Rembiałkowska, 2000; Worthington, 2001] indicated several positive aspects of the organic food quality but also few negative aspects and some INTRODUCTION uncertainties. Organic agriculture is understood as determined in the Council Regulation no 2092/91 on Organic Positives Production of Agriculture Products and Indications ? Organic crops contain fewer nitrates and nitrites referring thereto on Agriculture Products and and fewer residues of pesticides than Foodstuffs. Organic crops are obtained in the conventional ones. There is no clear difference in controlled conditions according to the guidelines of the content of heavy metals between organic and the mentioned Regulation. conventional crops; The last decade brought along several food ? Organic plant products contain as a rule more dry scandals (a. o. BSE, dioxins, Salmonella, Campylobacter, pesticides, toxic fungi) regarding the matter, more vitamin C and B-group vitamins, more phenolic compounds, more exogenous food safety. It had influence on the growth of consumer awareness and scientific interest in the indispensable amino acids and more total sugars; however the level of β carotene is often higher in agro-food chain safety, in that in organic production system. conventional plant products; Organic plant products contain statistically more iron, Organic farming is more and more popular in Europe and other parts of the world; it is doubtless magnesium and phosphorus; they show a trend to contain also more chromium, iodine, one of the fastest growing sectors of agricultural production. For example, the United Kingdom molybdenum, selenium, calcium, boron, manganese, copper, potassium, sodium, organic market has increased rapidly over recent vanadium and zinc;

     1 Ewa Rembiałkowska is with the Warsaw Agricultural University, Division of Organic Foodstuffs, 02-787 Warszawa, Poland

? Organic plant products have usually better ? Plants cultivated in organic system have as a rule sensory quality they have more distinct smell significantly lower yield; on average 20 % lower and taste and they are sweeter and more than conventionally produced crops. The same compact because of higher dry matter content; problem concerns animal production, where yield Preference for organic products is typical not only of milk and meat is significantly lower. It causes for humans but also for animals like rats, rabbits lower profit for the organic producer, increases and hens. This phenomenon was observed also in the prices, and creates a barrier for many such cases in which according to chemical consumers to buy organic food; analyses - both organic and conventional fodder ? More frequent parasitic afflictions in organically satisfied physiological needs of tested animals; reared animals are typical. It can create some ? Vegetables, potatoes and fruits from organic problems for the consumers though proper production show better storage quality during technological and culinary treatment can allow winter keeping clearly fewer mass decrements, avoiding health risk. caused by transpiration, decay, and decomposition processes. The possible reason is connected with higher content of dry matter, Uncertainties minerals and total sugars. It brings not only ? Environmental contamination (heavy metals, PCB, nutritive but also economic profits; in dioxins, aromatic hydrocarbons) can be similar in conventional system high yields are produced but the organic and conventional crops because the big storage decrements undermine economic impact of industrial, transport and communal sense of this production; sources is similar on the organic and conventional farms located in the same area. However the ? Farm animals form organic herds show less level of cadmium sometimes appears to be higher metabolic diseases like ketosis, lipidosis, arthritis, in conventional crops, probably due to relatively mastitis and milk fever. Milk and meat from high cadmium content in the phosphoric mineral organically reared animals has more profitable fertilizers and communal sludge used in fatty acids prophile and contains regularly more conventional system; CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is regarded to have an immunomodulating and ? Bacterial contamination, mainly Salmonella and anticarcinogenic effect on human health; Campylobacter, can be sometimes higher in the organic produce, but scientific evidence is not ? Animals fed organically grown feed show better clear till now; health and fertility parameters: fewer incidents of prenatal deaths, larger litters, and higher weight ? Mycotoxins can contaminate both organic and of young at birth and after 90 days and better conventional foods. Scientific data are immunity to the illnesses. It is especially contradictory, so the problem needs further interesting that fertility and condition of animals studies. fed organically increases over several generations. ? The impact of organic food on human health is In the light of diminishing human fertility in unknown and should be examined. civilized countries this fact can be of big importance;

? Organically processed foods contain much less synthetic additives (colouring and flavouring agents, sweeteners, artificial trans fatty acids etc.); ? There are only few evidences that human health REFERENCES could be improved as a result of eating organically. Some reports from the past show that Brandt, K. and Mølgaard, J. P. (2001). J. Sci. Food organic diet can improve general health and Agric. 81: 924 931. immunity, and some recent evidences coming from alternative medicine indicate that completely Council Regulation no. 2092 / 91 of 24 June 1991 on organic diet is essential for successful recovering organic production of agricultural products and after cancer. Further research in this respect is indications referring thereto on agricultural products necessary; and foodstuffs, 1991 ? Organic food should be recommended for all people but especially for young babies, pregnant and breast-feeding women, elderly or chronically Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. ill people and vegetarians. The last group (2003). a lot of vegetables which can contain plan/prospects.htm. too high levels of carcinogenic substances when produced conventionally; Lund, V. and Algers, B. (2003). Livestock Production ? The lower content of nitrates and higher content Science 80: 55 68. of phenolic compounds and vitamin C in organic crops have a special importance for health. The Lundegårdh B., A. Mårtensson, A. (2003). Acta Agric. nitrates are easily converted in our digestive tract Scand., Sect. B, Soil and Plant Sci. 53: 3 15. into the poisoning nitrites, which are the precursors of the carcinogenic nitrosamines. This Meier-Ploeger, A. (2005). Organic Farming Food process is hampered by vitamin C, and Quality and Human Health. NJF Seminar June 15th carcinogenesis is retarded by phenolic compounds. 2005. Therefore the organic vegetables can play an important role in anti cancer prevention. Rembiałkowska, E. (2000). Wholesomeness and sensory quality of potatoes and selected vegetables Negatives from the organic farms. Habilitation Thesis. Warsaw Agricultural University. Worthington, V. (2001). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 7: 161 173

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