CLAIMS BY academics that pregnant women who switch to “healthier” organic milk may be putting the brain development of their unborn babies at risk have been challenged by Dairy UK.
The conclusion drawn by researchers at Reading University hinged on the suggestion that milk certified as organic contains about a third less iodine than conventionally-produced milk and that the same could be true for “ultra-high temperature” (UHT)- processed long-life milk.
Lead scientist Professor Ian Givens, from the University of Reading, said: “People are increasingly buying organic and UHT milk for perceived health benefits or convenience. But our research shows that this trend could have serious implications for public health.
“Iodine deficiency ought to be a health problem from the past. But unless this situation is carefully monitored, we risk sleepwalking into a new health crisis in the 21st century.
“Organic and UHT milk is not bad for you, and drinking all types of milk has numerous health benefits. But to get the same amount of iodine as in a pint of conventional pasteurised milk, you would need to drink around an extra half-pint of organic or UHT milk.”
However Judith Bryans, chief executive of dairy industry body Dairy UK, questioned the validity of the findings, saying: “Iodine levels can vary from one type of milk to another and is influenced by seasonal variations.
“The fact that organic cows historically do not receive iodine in feed may explain why iodine levels have in the past been lower in organic milk.
“This practice however has now been changed. At the end of 2014, the industry resumed the practice of enriching feed with iodine and recent testing carried out in January 2015 on a representative number of milk samples found no significant difference in iodine levels between organic and conventional milk.”
She added: “Although this study only reflects former practices, it does highlight the crucial role milk plays in a healthy diet by providing a wide range of essential nutrients including calcium, vitamins and iodine.”