The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is planning to commission new research comparing the nutrient value and pesticide residue content of key organic and non-organically produced fruit and vegetables.
'It is important that consumers already buying organic food should be able to do so with confidence that it has indeed been produced organically," said an FSA spokesman.
Under the food authenticity research programme, the agency has already begun funding the development of analytical methods that could differentiate organic meat and vegetables from non-organic.
Recent proposals for research were generated from discussions in a workshop that the agency hosted to explore new opportunities for studying organic food. Participants concluded that unless specific health effects were identified, it would not be possible to test the hypothesis that organically produced food is generally healthier than non-organic.
The FSA has appealed to members of the public, consumer groups and industries to think about the areas of research suggested so that it can be sure that any research undertaken is of value to people when they are making food choices.
Views are being sought during the next three months. Any comments received, along with existing data that people may want to submit, will be taken into account before a formal call for research proposals is issued.