Study: Coca-Cola Research Funding Comes with Strings

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

May 13, 2019

The Coca-Cola Co. often includes a clause in contracts with academic researchers that allows it to quash research if it’s unfavorable to the company, according to a recent study.

The study, by researchers from Cambridge University in the UK and others, looked at five funding agreements between Coca-Cola and researchers at four universities: Louisiana State University, University of South Carolina, University of Toronto and the University of Washington. It found that the contracts gave Coca-Cola the right to review papers prior to publication and to terminate studies early without reason.

The study did not find any evidence of any specific study actually being killed by Coca-Cola. However, the researchers said their findings contradict the claims of openness made by Coca-Cola and other large corporate food industry players as they sponsor research into the health effects of their products.

“Corporate social responsibility has to be more than just shiny websites stating progressive policies that get ignored,” said lead researcher Sarah Steele of Cambridge, in a statement on Cambridge’s website.