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Organic food safety

Accepted wisdom is that organic food is good for you and good for the environment. But do these claims stand up to scrutiny? Are many people aware of organic food safety concerns raised by food safety organizations?

The “Good for you” claim has taken a few hits in recent years. In the book “The Myths about Nutrition Science“, David Lightsey, the author, discusses an analysis of the US national food safety organization, the FDA’s food safety recall data, which points to:

“Organic food being four to eight times more likely to be recalled than conventional foods for food safety issues such as bacterial contamination”.

Of the likely explanations, the use of animal faeces as fertilizer, which are obvious E.coli and other lethal pathogen vectors and the reduction or complete elimination of pest control, that could introduce disease are the most obvious possibilites.   Indeed, in 2011, a German organic bean sprout grower was found to be the source of a fatal E.coli outbreak that year, that ended up killing over 50 people and affected thousands. So organic food safety is a concern, of course most product is perfectly safe, but there is greater risk.

So is organic food at least good for the environment? Yes and no appears to be the answer.

Yes, the reduction in chemicals and pesticides leaching into the environment and food chain is almost certainly a good thing.

No, the general reduction in yields of organic food could mean that if lower harvest volumes are replaced by imported food, the additional food miles and transport emissions, result in unnecessary CO2 production.

Lab grown meat?

One area of intense research right now, is laboratory grown meat. This scientific breakthrough could revolutionise the farming and food industry. Companies working in this area predict product in supermarket shelves by 2023.  The benefits for food safety, animal welfare and CO2 emissions are obvious, as long as national food safety organizations develop entirely new ways to regulate this industry to protect the public.

Would you choose organic beef over a lab grown version?

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