Organic meat boasts more nutrients, report finds

Eating organic meat instead of non-organic meat could provide consumers with double the number of essential nutrients and lower the risk of heart disease, a study by Newcastle University has found. 

Published today (16 February) in the British Journal of Nutrition, the report has revealed that organic meat contains double the essential Omega-3 fatty acids, when compared to conventional meat products. Organic meat also has lower levels of two saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease, the report claimed.

“We farm organic red meat on a grass-based, home-grown forage diet, which delivers a superb quality,” said Richard Smith, senior farms manager from organic meat producer Daylesford Organic.

“In addition to other benefits of producing food in an organic system, this landmark paper now also confirms what we’ve always known: there is also a significant nutritional difference between organic and non-organic.”

Under organic standards in the UK, organic cows must eat a 60% fresh grass or silage diet.

The study is the largest systematic review of organic vs non-organic products in the UK. It was led by scientists at Newcastle University alongside an international team of food scientists.

The higher level of Omega-3 is the result of organic livestock fed on a slightly more natural grass-based diet, which contains higher quantities of clover. Clover, the scientists explained, is used in organic farming to adjust the levels of nitrogen so crops and grass grow without the use of chemical fertilisers.

The report, which also looked at dairy products like milk, said a clover-rich diet increased the quantity of Omega-3 in meat and milk.

“This research confirms what many people have always thought was true – what you feed farm animals and how you treat them affects the quality of the food – whether it’s milk, cheese or a cut of meat,” said Helen Browning, chief executive of the Soil Association.

“These scientists have shown that all the hard work organic farmers put into caring for their animals pays off in the quality of the food they produce – giving real value for money.”

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