Certain to put a cat amongst the pigeons, scientists have claimed this week that organic food is no healthier than other produce.

Organic food is no healthier than conventional produce, according to a comprehensive review of 50 years of evidence.

Scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine spent 12 months reviewing nutritional research on foodstuffs produced normally and under organic standards which ban artificial fertilisers and other chemicals.

The scientists said the conclusion that there is no significant nutritional difference between the two systems could prompt shoppers to think twice about buying organic food.

But organic farming experts questioned why the study dismissed evidence from some papers. Funded by the Food Standards Agency, researchers searched scientific journals for all reviews of organic and non-organic fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy between 1958 and February 2008.

Of 162 relevant studies, they deemed 55 to be of “satisfactory quality”. They found no significant difference between organic and non-organic farming for 20 of 23 nutritional categories including vitamin C and iron.

Organic food had higher levels of phosphorous and acidity and conventional food was higher in nitrates.

When all 162 papers were considered, organic farming was higher in 11 nutrients. Dr Alan Dangour, who led the study, said: “A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally-produced crops and livestock, but these are unlikely to be of public health relevance. We found, broadly, that there was no important difference between organic and conventional produce.”

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