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Scientist discrediting meat guidelines failed to report food industry ties

Rick Solem

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The research last week that said eating red meat doesn’t pose that great a risk for cancer and heart disease turned out to be authored by a scientist with ties to the meat and food industry.

When the international “research” was released, it was almost immediately attacked by U.S. scientists, as it contradicted longstanding guidelines to limit red and processed meat consumption.

The findings were led by Bradley C. Johnston, a Canadian epidemiologist, who indicated in the research there were no conflicts of interest within the past three years.

But, as early as December of 2016, the New York Times reported “he was the senior author on a similar study that tried to discredit international health guidelines advising people to eat less sugar.

“That study, which also appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was paid for by the International Life Sciences Institute, or ILSI, an industry trade group largely supported by agribusiness, food and pharmaceutical companies and whose members have included McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cargill, one of the largest beef processors in North America.

The industry group, founded by a top Coca-Cola executive four decades ago, has long been accused by the World Health Organization and others of trying to undermine public health recommendations to advance the interests of its corporate members.”

Johnston, however, said he didn’t disclose those relationships, because “That money was from 2015 so it was outside of the three year period for disclosing competing interests. I have no relationship with them whatsoever,” he told the Times.