by Marion Nestle
Mar 11 2024

How the food industry exerts influence VI: South African researchers (Nestlé)

Since it’s Monday when I post industry-funded studies anyway, I will add one more of these to last week’s collection.

This one comes from an articles in The Conversation: Big companies, like Nestlé, are funding health research in South Africa – why this is wrong.

At the time a group of more than 200 senior academics wrote an open letter, about conflicts of interest. Nestlé’s portfolio of foods, by its own admission, includes more than 60% that don’t meet the definition of healthy products.

In December last year, the same centre announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Nestlé. It signalled their intent to “forge a transformative partnership” to shape “the future of food and nutrition research and education” and transform “Africa’s food systems”.

The article mentions other such partnerships.

The article covers reasons why researchers need to avoid such partnerships, some of them based on my work on this site.

It ends by suggesting how to counter industry influence:

An online course and toolkit for research ethics committees on conflict of interest in health research provides some practical guidance.

These and other initiatives point the way forward for universities to be alert to the dangers of these “gift relationships” and to be better equipped to protect their integrity.