The latest research demonstrates it is the diet organic cows enjoy as a requirement of organic standards that delivers better milk, says the UKCow Soil Association.
Organic milk is the most thoroughly scientifically researched organic food with research proving what many mothers already know - that organic milk is nutritionally superior and better for human health.
Dutch Government funded research published last year showed that mothers who drink organic milk produce different, more nutritious breast milk. Children with mothers who drink organic milk are 36% less likely to suffer from eczema (a disease that affects 10% of infants in the EU).
Organic milk nutrional benefits
The latest research from Newcastle University shows that organic milk contains more nutritionally desirable fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, including up to a staggering 60% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) during the summer months. These substances are linked to lower risks of heart disease and cancer.
CLA are currently receiving much attention in nutritional research, since there is experimental evidence suggesting that these fatty acids might have anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-diabetic and immune-modulating effects, as well as a favourable influence on body fat composition, i.e. on the proportion of fat tissue to muscle mass.
Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett said the research confirms what organic farmers and consumers have long believed to be true.
Organic cows diet better
"Some sceptics had thrown doubts on the benefits of organic milk because scientists had not shown precisely how organic farming makes a positive difference – this latest research demonstrates that it is the cows' organic diet that makes their milk healthier."
Other research has shown that the same is true for beef and lamb reared on grass.
"We believe that the healthy diet and guaranteed free-range lives of organic pigs and chickens means that all organic meat and dairy products are going to be better for you, as well as being best in terms of animal welfare.
"All farm animals deserve to live an organic lifestyle, and everyone can increase their intake of beneficial vitamins by eating organic food."
The Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (OMSCo), which represents over 350 organic dairy farmers said, "We are extremely pleased that another piece of independent research has been published highlighting the benefits of organic milk."
"Our farmers follow stringent guidelines and pay higher prices for non-solvent based and GM free feed."
All organic cattle in the EU have grass-based diets and restrict the level of concentrate which can be fed. Soil Association organic standards ensure that farmers allow their cattle to graze on fresh forage throughout the growing season, and require that each cow has over half an acre to graze on. There are no such requirements in non-organic systems.
Organic beef better too
Research published by scientists at Utah State University in the US found that beef from cattle fed grass-based diets had up to 500% more of two types of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), than beef from animals on typically high cereal-maize diets.
The researchers concluded that, 'A person consuming the high CLA products [milk and red meat from grass fed animals] would have a CLA intake of about 441mg/day…which is well above the minimum intake that has been shown to be effective in reducing the incidence of cancer in animal models’.
Researchers in Australia have found that grass fed cattle also have higher levels of beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of Omega-6 fatty acids.
Meanwhile researchers at the Jonsson Cancer Center in the US have recently shown that diets high in Omega-3 fatty acids and low in Omega-6 fatty acids lower the inflammatory response known to promote the growth of prostate cancer tumours.