Meat of the matter

A scientific journal that published a controversial study encouraging people to continue eating red and processed meat has issued a correction about funding the author received for different research. 

The paper, which appeared in the October 2019 edition of Annals of Internal Medicine, included guidelines based on analyses of existing research. It suggested “adults continue current unprocessed red meat … (and) processed meat consumption.” 

 Concerned medical and nutritional researchers said the guidelines misrepresented studies that show a connection between eating red and processed meats and adverse health outcomes, such as heart disease, cancer or Type 2 diabetes. 

Then, on 31 December 2019, the journal issued a correction that the study’s lead author, Bradley Johnston, failed to disclose grant funding received from Texas A&M AgriLife Research for other research on saturated and polyunsaturated fats.  

Last year, Texas A&M AgriLife received $11.4 million for research on beef, $4 million of which was non-corporate or corporate sponsored. 

“The decision to publish the articles in the first place raised major scientific concerns. But the failure to address the ethical issues in publishing regarding conflict of interest aggravates the situation,” Dr Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said. 

“The big theme here is science is supposed to clarify issues,” he said. “More and more, scientists are being paid for hire to muddy the issues.” 

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