Coca-Cola’s Questionable Funding of Public Health Research

Coca-Cola spends millions of dollars funding scientific research, but if they don’t like the findings, the company can make sure the research never sees the light of day.

Analysts found clear conflicts of interest in Coca Cola’s private funding of public health research. Information for the report was obtained through Freedom of Information requests and the results were published in the Journal of Public Health Policy.

The report shows how Coca-Cola can use research contract agreements to influence the results of public health research. Coca-Cola uses these contracts to ensure the company gets early access to the research and the ability to terminate studies. Researchers say this gives the company the ability to eliminate unfavorable research findings, like studies that connect their products with a range of diseases.  

The analysts found Coca-Cola research agreements with Louisiana State University, University of South Carolina, University of Toronto and the University of Washington.

In parsing the fine print of these contracts, analysts found that Coca-Cola has the right to terminate research projects at any time, without reason. The contracts also had provisions ensuring Coca-Cola maintained intellectual property rights on the research.

Researchers say that these types of contracts aren’t unique to Coca Cola in the world of corporate-sponsored research.



Image adapted from: “Enjoy Capitalism” by Pimkie is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0