Research interactions between academia and food companies: how to improve transparency and credibility of an inevitable liaison
Interactions between academia and food companies have been increasing, in recent years, in terms of quantity and complexity. Food companies seek the advice of academic institutions or experts from universities and research centers either to better understand the potential health effects of their products or to set up research projects. They also often ask experts to present—to colleagues or to the general population—information on specific foods, diets, nutrients, also to influence their nutritional habits and choices.
In this letter, we analyze possible advantages and disadvantages of such interaction, namely sponsored research and sponsored nutritional communication, also in view of the consolidated tendency, by national and international funding bodies, to specifically promote research projects involving both academia and industry; we also try to identify simple criteria aimed at preventing the generation or the diffusion of incorrect information.
All authors contributed to the manuscript and revised and approved the final version.
Compliance with ethical standards
The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data, and therefore, ethical approval was not necessary.
Conflict of interest
The preparation of this manuscript did not receive any specific Grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. AP is the President, and FM the Research Director of NFI, a non-profit association partly supported by 18 national and international food companies. CLV has a Grant support from Assocarne and a consultancy/teaching agreement with Soremartec. GR is member of the Nutritional Advisory Board of Barilla and is involved in research projects funded by both public and private sponsors. Other authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.
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