Study: IFIC misleads the public about diet, health, ultra-processed foods and added sugars

Study: IFIC misleads the public about diet, health, ultra-processed foods and added sugars

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For immediate release: Sunday 30 October 2022

For more information, please contact: Gary Ruskin,, +1 415944 7350; Daniel Zaltz,, +1914843 6738; Conniehoe,, +49 6221 565344

The International Food Information Council “promotes the interests of food and beverage companies and undermines the accurate dissemination of scientific evidence related to diet and health,” according to the study Published yesterday in the magazine globalization and health. IFIC is widely cited in the media as a source for consumer sentiment and issues related to food and health.

The study was produced by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and US Right to Know, a nonprofit public health investigative group, and the US obtained nearly 30,000 pages of documents for the study through federal and state public records requests.

The study found that IFIC is often involved in consumer “preference formation” which “involves the use of key opinion leaders and multimedia communications to promote sympathetic narratives with business interests”. The group also engages in “manufacturing skepticism,” which uses “specific evidence and rhetoric to cast doubt about the negative health effects of particular foods or food groups.”

“IFIC is advocating for the products and denial of science for the ultra-processed food industry,” said Gary Ruskin, CEO of US Right to Know and one of the study’s authors. “It works to protect the profits of the food industry, not your health.”

The study concluded that “IFIC uses the media to proactively counter information about the negative health effects of added sugars and ultra-processed foods… IFIC and its subsidiaries publish a narrow subset of nutritional and health information aligned with corporate interests and opposed to public health policies associated with improving population health. “.

“Based on our review of the scientific evidence presented to the major media by academic researchers on behalf of the IFIC, there is reason to consider IFIC a funder of nutrition-based misinformation,” the study says.

IFIC often appears as a file source in the media. For example, over the past year, IFIC has been cited in The New York TimesAnd the USA TodayAnd the NEWSWEEKAnd the US News & World ReportAnd the Consumer ReportsAnd the good housekeepingAnd the Hof PostAnd the Martha Stewart LivingAnd the appearanceAnd the men’s healthamong other things.

As part of media outreach, IFIC . produces Consumer Surveys. The study notes that IFIC and IFIC-supported consumer surveys and academic researchers “constantly focus on individual or ‘person-level’ changes in diet and health. This individual narrative is consistent with that promoted by other health-damaging industries such as the tobacco and alcohol industries… “

IFIC was established to work closely with the food industry interface group International Institute of Life Sciences (ILSI), a group founded by former Coca-Cola Vice President Alex Malaspina. Malaspina described how the groups work together: “IFIC is a kind of sister entity to ILSI. ILSI generates scientific facts and IFIC communicates them to the media and the public.”

Monsanto public relations plan To discredit the World Health Organization’s Cancer Unit, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has described IFIC as “Industry partnerIn its efforts to defend the Roundup weedkiller’s reputation from cancer concerns.

IFIC is based in Washington, DC, and sometimes works closely with federal agencies. IFIC states that Existing partners The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes; US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition; and four programs within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“It is not the appropriate role for federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to legalize front companies’ groups, particularly those that promote products that detract from our health,” Ruskin said.

Other IFIC partners include the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM); World Health Organization (WHO); and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

IFIC also has “Public relations— employees of federal agencies who have “agreed to represent their organization and act as advisors and subject matter experts.” At present, IFIC has “public relations” from three federal agencies: USDA, CDC and FDA.

The study in globalization and health entitled “How independent is the International Food Information Council from the food and beverage industry? Content analysis of internal industry documents. “

The study was co-authored by Daniel Zaltz, a doctoral candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH); Lauren Pacey, Research Associate at JHSPH; Gary Ruskin, CEO, US Right to Know; Connie H. He, associate professor at JHSPH.

Earlier this year, USRTK’s Gary Ruskin co-authored another study on IFIC, also published in globalization and healthentitled “Confronting potential ‘front groups’ in the food industry: A case study for IFC nutrition communications using the UCSF Food Industry Documentation Archive.. It concluded that “IFIC’s promotion of evidence relating to the food industry should be interpreted as a marketing strategy for these funders”.

The US Right to Know IFIC fact sheet is available over here.

US Right to Know is a nonprofit investigative research group focused on promoting transparency in public health. For more information about the US Right to Know Program, see our academic papers at For more general information, see


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