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UK Agricultural news

Friday 12th June 2009
Is your organic milk fake?

The UK consumer is waking up to organic milk. We have seen a 50% rise in sales of organic milk in the last two years as people become more conscious of environmental effects and animal welfare. The sorry fact is that demand actually outstrips supply here, and we often import from other countries such as Denmark. This trend is mirrored across much of Europe with many countries seeing a similar rise in sales.

But how do we know our nicely labeled organic milk is the real thing? The increased demand has seen several cases whereby shady companies market non-organic milk as organic to boost sales and profits.

Luckily a team of scientist in Germany lead by Joachim Molkentin have developed a new test to determine whether an organic milk sample is genuine. It works by testing milk fats for the carbon stable isotope ratio and α-linolenic acid content. Conventional dairy cows normally have large amounts of maize in their diets and this is evident in the carbon stable isotope ratio. Organic dairy cows are generally pasture fed and have far less maize in their diets.

Such tests are vital in regulating and enforcing organic standards, however as the research is new, it may be some time before this test can be widely used.

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