North American Meat Institute Calls On Nutrition Researchers and Journal Editors to Publish Findings Promptly and Completely Regardless of Study Outcomes

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Open letter to nutrition community follows recent study featuring 40 year old data not published until last week

Newly published research contradicts the recommendation to lower saturated fat intake from meat to reduce the risk of heart disease

Our nation’s nutrition policy should not be built on just half the story, but that is what happens when researchers may only have been able to publish papers that found linkages between foods and health outcomes, rather than those that found nothing.

In an open letter to nutrition researchers and journal editors, North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter urged prompt and complete publication of research findings regardless of their outcomes.

The Institute released the letter in response to publication of data from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment that was not fully analyzed and published until last week. The latest analysis, published in the BMJ, found that saturated fat was not associated with death from coronary heart disease. Ivan Frantz, Ph.D., the original researcher, published some of it in 1989, 16 years after the project’s completion and after he had retired because, “We just didn’t like the way it came out.” (Teicholz, 2014)

In the letter, the Institute also noted that results from a Harvard Pooling Project study of 725,000 people was presented as an abstract at a 2004 American Association for Cancer Research conference, but never fully published despite its federal funding. That study found that red and processed meats were not associated with colon cancer.

“Our nation’s nutrition policy should not be built on just half the story, but that is what happens when researchers may only have been able to publish papers that found linkages between foods and health outcomes, rather than those that found nothing,” Carpenter said.

The Institute noted that In December 2015, David B. Resnik, J.D., Ph.D., Bioethicist and National Institute of Environmental Sciences Internal Review Board Chair, outlined appropriate research ethics and among them was the following: “1) Openness: Share data, results, ideas, tools, resources. Be open to criticism and new ideas; and 2) Responsible Publication: Publish in order to advance research and scholarship, not to advance just your own career. Avoid wasteful and duplicative publication.”

“We couldn’t agree more. It’s time to shine a light on nutrition research – the good, the bad, the positive, and the negative. Public health is at stake and nothing less should be tolerated,” the Institute wrote.

The Institute last week also wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell urging them to ensure that recipients of research grants overseen by their departments publish results promptly and completely.

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Eric Mittenthal
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