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Experts OPTA webinar on organic processing at BIOFACH agree:‘Organic sector must refresh vision on organic processing and health’

In the OPTA webinar on the future of organic processing three experts reflected on the relationship between organic and health and the need for further development. The topic health is one of the main principles of the organic movement (IFOAM) and some health issues are clearly regulated, like the prohibition of the most chemical additives and GMO’s. The proof that the organic health concept makes sense, is the behaviour of the conventional food processing industry. Many single issues that are part of the organic food health concept, like pesticide-free, no additives and natural flavours have been taken up by the conventional food industry in the concept of clean labelling.

FAO Nova concept versus Nutriscore 

Sarah Compson (Soil Association) showed the consumption intake of the four types of food according to the FAO scheme: 1. Fresh food 2. Slightly processed food 3. Processed food and 4. Ultra-processed food. According to the FAO the fresh food is related to most healthy and ultra-processed food clearly related to most unhealthy food quality. The intake of unhealthy ultra-processed food has risen to almost 50% in the UK. In this context the concept of Nutriscore was discussed and generally seen as an insufficient concept that can is very limited to contribute to improvement, as the UK figures show. 

Ursula Kretzschmar (FiBL) stressed that the Nutriscore is oversimplifying the reality and will benefit ultra-processed food-concepts that are actually unhealthy and might disclaim natural organic food that is less processed because of containing fresh fruit in stead of chemical additives for colour, taste and sweetness.

Motivation of the purpose for food processing techniques

Janis Garancs (Aloja Starkelsen) showed the dilemmas of the organic processing food-industry. In one hand the industry has to take into account technical innovations that fights the food-waste, improves distribution or improves very delicate healthy food concepts for infant formula. On the other hand, we have to innovate in our own direction of specialized health concepts based on the quality of the natural ingredients. Janis expressed that it is the responsibility of processing industry to motivate the purpose of the use of processing techniques; is it for economical profit only, or does it contribute to important topics like health and sustainability?

ProOrg outcomes in June 2021

Ursula announced the publication of the assessment framework  to assess and compare processing technologies in a holistic and standardized way to be able to test new technologies for their bio-acceptability. 

ProOrg (https://www.proorgproject.com/) study outcomes in June.   

All speakers and moderator Bavo van den Idsert (OPTA) concluded that the organic sector has to refresh the vision on the concept of careful organic processing, especially related to health. This was, is and must stay an added value of organic where consumers can rely on, as alternative for the unhealthy over-processed food in the conventional sector. Together with the development of new organic health food innovations that are in line with health principles. 

To download the webinar presentation here:

For further information please contact Benedetta@opta-eu.org

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