Correction issued for controversial red meat study

The scientific journal that published guidelines bucking conventions about the associated heart health risks of consuming red meat has issued a correction after it failed to disclose meat industry ties to the research.

The controversial guidelines, published in October 2019 in the journal, stated that eating red and processed meats had little negative impact on health and that previous studies finding health harms associated with red meat were weak. The publication, which went against decades of research, prompted backlash from health groups and medical professionals, and the emergence of meat industry ties and funding were uncovered quickly.

The Annals of Internal Medicine published the correction on Dec. 31, 2019, noting that one author of guidelines, Bradley Johnston, PhD, an epidemiologist at Dalhousie University in Canada, “did not indicate a grant from Texas A&M AgriLife Research to fund investigator-driven research related to saturated and polyunsaturated fats.”

Texas A&M AgriLife Research is part of the Texas A&M University systems and is the agricultural and life sciences research agency of the state of Texas. The correction and updated disclosure now cites the funding occurred within the 36-month reporting period by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Johnston also received funding from the International Life Science Institute during the 36-month period.

The funding, though separate from the research, raised questions if the research was meant to reveal positive findings for saturated fat, which could benefit AgriLife, The Washinton Post reported.

Red and processed meat consumption has been linked to several negative health implications, including increased breast cancer risks and coronary heart disease. The high saturated fat content of red meat is also known to raise blood cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association.