Steak Holder Interests: Industry Funding and Nutrition Reporting

The Annals of Internal Medicine Red Meat Reports: A Look at Why and how NutriRECS was established to disavow dietary guidelines-specifically applied to meat- assembled by Jennifer Lutz, Executive Director of True Health Initiative

Annals of Internal Medicine Red Meat Papers Author Affiliations: 

GRADE Working Group: 

Bradley C. Johnston

Pablo Alonso-Coello

Gordon H. Guyatt

G-I-N Updating Guidelines working group

Pablo Alonso-Coello 

Texas A&M Agriculture and Life Sciences 

Patrick Stover became Dean and Vice Chancellor of Texas A&M Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2018

*In 2018, 44 Farms International Beef Cattle Academy contributed an endowment of 25,000 to Texas A&M Agriculture and Life Sciences with this purpose: “With the world’s population expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050, global beef production will need to rise 120% 

Gordon H. Guyatt

Pablo Alonso-Coello 

Cochran Group: 

Pablo Alonso-Coello

Gordon H. Guyatt

Bradley C. Johnston 

In December 2018, NutriRECS published a a report to justify NutriRECS’ existence in BMC Medical Research Methodology, with the stated objective: 

“NutriRECS will develop trustworthy guideline recommendations in nutrition. To do so we will include the application of novel and rigorous systematic review and guideline methods using the GRADE approach to investigate the relationship between diets, foods, nutrients and health outcomes; integrate patient and community values and preferences to inform guideline recommendations; apply strict safeguards against conflicts of interest; and use Evidence to Decision (EtD) frameworks to help people use the evidence in a structured and transparent way.

Given the extensive number of research questions and interventions in the broad field of nutrition, NutriRECS will only have the capacity to focus on a small number of guideline projects. Selected projects will be of broad interest to the general public and previous guideline recommendations produced by multiple authoritative organizations will have evidence of extensive methodological limitations (e.g. red and processed meat)”.

According to NutriRECS, their Executive Committee is made up of “systematic review and nutrition/public health experts (Dr. Bradley Johnston, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada; Dr. Malgorzata M. Bala, Chair of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Department of Hygiene and Dietetics, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Cracow, Poland; Cochrane Poland), experts in guideline methods (Dr. Pablo Alonso-Coello, Iberoamerican Cochrane Centre, Barcelona, Spain; Dr. Gordon Guyatt, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada), and a community member with guideline experience (Ms. Catherine Marshall, Cochrane Community Representative, New Zealand).”

Authors, Pablo Alonso-Coello and Gordon H. Guyatt have spent years focused on growing the GRADE Working Group. Guyatt, specifically, has a history of critiquing international guidelines after the 2015 WHO guidelines classified processed meat as a grade 1 carcinogenic. 

From: ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest: 

All Study Authors Checked “No” to All Questions Including: 

“Report all sources of revenue paid (or promised to be paid) directly to you or your institution on your behalf over the 36 months prior to submission of the work. This should include all monies from sources with relevance to the submitted work, not just monies from the entity that sponsored the research..…”

Pablo Alonso-Coello and Gordon H. Guyatt 

Are both part of the GRADE working group, which in 2016, published a report on using GRADE to map from Evidence to Decision- Grade Working Groups’s EtD. “The EtD frameworks differ from the earlier versions of GRADE Evidence to Recommendation tables17 18 19 in several ways. They incorporate new criteria and require more explicit and structured summaries of evidence to address each criterion, beyond summaries of findings for the effects of interventions.14 They address coverage, health system, and public health decisions, as well as recommendations, and they facilitate decision making based on recommendations”

Pablo Alonso-Coello is focused on using the GRADE system to redefine guidelines in clinical practice, but he had not turned his attention to dietary guidelines until his recent work with NutriRECS. 

In 2017, Alonso-Coello published, Reporting Items for Updated Clinical Guidelines: Checklist for the Reporting of Updated Guidelines (CheckUp) and listed an affiliation to McMaster University, where Gordon H. Guyatt is on faculty. 

Gordon H. Guyatt

Dr. Guyatt’s biography on the McMaster University website describes him as ” co-founder and co-chair of the GRADE working group….. he has been intimately involved in the development and evolution of the GRADE approach.” 

Patrick Stover and Texas A&M

  • Texas A&M is the institution of Patrick Stover. Study authors reported that there was no funding because they were academics and able to rely on students etc. 
    • Funding that Texas A&M has received as a direct result of efforts made by Patrick Stover, who was appointed as chancellor in 2018 includes: 
    • an initial 25,000 from Mclaren, who currently serves as president and chief executive officer of 44 Farms to establish the 44 Farms International Beef Cattle Academy Endowment.  The academy has the potential to expand Texas A&M’s leadership in agriculture even further across the world. McClaren’s gift, which also kicks off a multi-year $10.5 million fundraising campaign for Texas A&M’s Department of Animal Science, will be used to support scholarships, the development of educational curriculum and other expenses incurred by the cutting-edge online program.“The first cohort of students, who will graduate in fall 2019, come from Texas, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Romania. Program leaders want these students not only to learn the latest about beef cattle but also to disseminate this information through their own regional networks.
    • In the Texas A & M Agrilife fundraising campaign Stover writes, “practical and purpose-driven research yields economic, environmental and health benefits that are key to Texas’ success and have potential to impact people around the globe” 
    • “With the world’s population expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050, global beef production will need to rise 120% by then to meet demand.Texas A&M’s International Beef Cattle Academy is training leaders around the world in partnership with 44 Farms. By sharing best practices and the newest technology in the beef industry, this program helps others be successful in providing better quality food to people throughout the world.”
  • Patrick Stover will be speaking at the Texas Cattle Association 2019 Annual Convention Oct 13-15.  His topic is “Raising the Steaks on Nutrition and Health.”  The description reads,
    Adding to consumer confusion are new “alternative proteins” that claim to be more sustainable or healthier than real beef. What exactly are the facts, and how do we as beef producers answer consumer questions when it comes to the role beef plays in our health and the environment?