Oct 05, 2019

By Jeremy Logan

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A Canadian researcher who co-led a study that challenges well-worn advice to limit meat consumption is responding to criticisms he should have disclosed past ties to the global meat and food industry.

Dalhousie University’s Bradley Johnston says he followed the disclosure rules of the Annals of Internal Medicine, which published the work. They require him to reveal outside funding received within three years.

The Halifax professor and epidemiologist says the last time he received money from the International Life Sciences Institute, an industry trade group, was almost five years ago. He says he has cut all ties since.

However, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University says that while Johnston followed the letter of the disclosure rule, he “ignored its spirit.”

Marion Nestle says Johnston’s methodologies and conclusions on red meat are similar to his industry-funded work on sugar consumption, which also found weak evidence to cut intake. The Annals of Internal Medicine published that study in December 2016.

The team of 14 scientists in the red meat study concluded evidence that links this food to cancer, heart disease and other bad health outcomes is weak. They wrote that if there is a benefit to giving up meat products, it’s small.

The journal article was examining previously reported data that a reduction of three red meat servings per week offered seven fewer cancer deaths per 1,000 people.

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