TORONTO — Canada’s largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star, conducted an investigation that concluded that organic milk is no better than conventional milk.
“We visited organic and conventional farms, tested milk in labs, and interviewed industry experts, dietitians, scientists and professors, and found that consumers’ belief is cultivated by mischaracterizations about conventional milk and a 100-year-old, mystical farming philosophy that denounces regular milk producers as too reliant on chemicals,” reads the investigative piece. “The organic seal of approval is awarded to farmers for meeting bureaucratic standards that emphasize note-taking and gives points to farmers who try but fail to meet them.”
The Star says there is no difference in the nutrition levels between organic and conventional milk. Tests on organic and conventional milk found the same levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats in all the samples.
The Star also tested for metals and found both types of milk had low levels of arsenic, cadmium and mercury, and the same levels of iron.
The Organic Council of Ontario (OCO) responded by saying the nearly-5,000-word feature was not thorough enough. The OCO also pointed to a 2016 meta-analysis in Europe that said the data from more than 170 studies shows organic milk has more than 50 per cent higher healthy omega-3 fatty acid levels and higher levels of heart-healthy conjugated linolenic acid, iron, vitamin E, and carotenoids.
The Star quoted many organic farmers touting the benefits of their milk, saying organic cows are happier and healthier.
The article also quoted experts as saying it is a myth that organic milk has more health benefits than conventional dairy. Both organic and conventional cows can be treated with antibiotics, but conventional milking cows have to wait until the antibiotics are out of their systems before the milk can go back into the bulk tank, the Star reported. Milk from organic cows treated with antibiotics is removed from the supply for 30 days. All milk from both conventional and organic is tested for antibiotics.