Shocker: Scientist behind “red meat is healthy” study has shady ties

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Last week, the world was shaken over a seemingly legitimate scientific study claiming that red and processed meats are, in fact, super healthy, and there’s no need to cut them out of your diet. The story was covered—sometimes with skepticism—by plenty of highly respectable publications, but here at The Takeout, we raised an eyebrow. In our morning news meeting, I said that everything about this study reeked of the meat lobby, and I called shenanigans of the highest order. However, I could not prove my hunch, nor did I research it because I was very busy writing about other important things, like bull semen. Plus, I was positive that it would only be a matter of days before it was discovered that someone was on the take, and holy crap look at this guys I was totally right.

It turns out that the lead scientist on the Annals Of Internal Medicine report, Dr. Bradley Johnson, is shady as all get out. From 
The New York Times:

Dr. Johnston also indicated on a disclosure form that he did not have any conflicts of interest to report during the past three years. But as recently as December 2016 he was the senior author on a similar study that tried to discredit international health guidelines advising people to eat less sugar. That study, which also appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was paid for by the International Life Sciences Institute, or ILSI, an industry trade group largely supported by agribusiness, food and pharmaceutical companies and whose members have included McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cargill, one of the largest beef processors in North America. The industry group, founded by a top Coca-Cola executive four decades ago, has long been accused by the World Health Organization and others of trying to undermine public health recommendations to advance the interests of its corporate members.

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Dr. Johnson—if that is even his real name—insists that he did nothing wrong, since he only needed to disclose anything that could be seen as a conflict of interest if it occurred in the past three years. Even though that study did fall into that three-year window, the check he got for writing it cleared in 2015. That is an astonishingly bad argument to make in one’s defense, but honestly, I’m kinda impressed that he at least tried it.

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About the author

Allison Robicelli

Allison Robicelli is the staff writer for The Takeout, a former professional baker, the host of The Robicelli Argument Clinic Podcast, and a nascent birding enthusiast.