Author of red, processed meats guideline had ties to industry

Recent pushback against a nutritional guideline that supports the consumption of red and processed meats includes allegations that the guideline’s lead author had ties to the meat industry, Health Exec reports.

The guideline, penned by Bradley Johnston, PhD, and colleagues and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine earlier this month, suggests it’s safe for adults to eat red and processed meats, citing weak evidence that the products raise a person’s risk for heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. But not everyone is impressed with the team’s conclusion—per Health Exec, one Harvard professor said Johnston and his co-authors were ignorant in not including “major parts of the available evidence” in their statement.

Johnston failed to disclose any conflicts of interest in the new paper, but a New York Times article revealed he’s actually been connected to the meat industry. The Times linked him to several studies paid for by industry trade groups with special interests—namely one that aimed to undermine evidence that people should eat less sugar. Cargill, a major beef processor, supported the study.

Annals editors have reportedly defended their decision to publish the red and processed meats guideline, but they’ve been met with resistance from the American College of Cardiology and other organizations that have dismissed the study as “reckless.”

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