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An approach to conflicts of interest in UK food regulatory institutions


The history of food is replete with examples of food scandals leading to institutional and procedural reforms intended to rebuild trust. For trust to be sustainable, systems need to be trustworthy. Food regulatory institutions are at the interface of science and policy, and they should have robust and reliable mechanisms for identifying and addressing commercial conflicts of interest (COIs) among the membership of their boards and advisory committees. Here we provide a detailed estimate, analysis and critique of COIs within the United Kingdom’s food regulatory institutions. This exercise was facilitated by the United Kingdom’s rule requiring declarations of COIs, which are published. Institutions that require and publish declarations of COIs are probably more trustworthy than those that do not, while institutions that exclude all individuals with COIs could be even more trustworthy.

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Correspondence to Erik Millstone.

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Nature Food thanks Martin McKee and Stuart Gillespie for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Millstone, E., Lang, T. An approach to conflicts of interest in UK food regulatory institutions. Nat Food 4, 17–21 (2023).

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