Food industry self-monitoring
If it’s one thing the food industry does really well, it’s surely to pat itself on the back. Something called The Ethisphere Institute (motto: “Good. Smart. Business. Profit.”) has produced a list of the world’s most ethical companies, among them Kellogg’s, Danone, PepsiCo, and Unilever. How did Ethisphere do this? It analyzed data from the companies. I’m guessing it didn’t include marketing to children or misleading health claims as ethical criteria.
And food company representatives have gotten together to establish guidelines for funding food and nutrition research so as to prevent conflicts of interest. The guidelines make sense – keep everything transparent and stay out of the way of research and publication – but do not address what I see as the most serious consequence of food industry sponsorship: setting up research studies to inevitably yield results that favor the sponsor’s products.
This, I can assure you, is remarkably easy to do and happens all the time (see, for example, my post on Açaí).
Yes, food and nutrition research is difficult to do and interpret. That is why independent funding is essential. At least that’s how I see it. You?