[8 February/ Food Navigator]

Mars has announced that it plans to quit the industry funded International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) by the end of 2018 and will now support science regardless of the results expected.  Mars has made its science policy public in a bid to increase trust and transparency. They have committed to publish research findings regardless of nature of the outcomes, together with disclosing potential conflicts of interest and not linking funding to specific research outcomes.  The company said it was no longer interested in being involved in advocacy led studies that have been widely criticised.  ILSI is funded by around 400 corporate entities including Nestle, Unilever and Coca-Cola and published research in 2016 that concluded that evidence in favour of guidelines recommending limits on added dietary sugar was low quality and did not meet criteria for trustworthy recommendations.  Mars withdrawing raises questions about whether more companies will leave the organisation with one commentator suggesting that Mars’ statement feels like the company is finally telling it like it is, however most companies contacted by Food Navigator did not respond to questions.  Mars action follows several large companies leaving the US Grocery Manufacturers Association in recent months, which has been linked to companies looking to acknowledge and meet customer expectations rather than systematically oppose them.