Pigs & Politics, Uncategorized

Food Brands and “Health Science”

Food brand names and health science don’t – DO NOT – belong together. On the surface alone it’s a conflict of interest. Food-sponsored science is already tainted by the bald fact that a food manufacturer is paying for the research. Getting to the heart of the matter, it’s mostly a monetary conflict of interest. There’s little-to-no nutritional benefit from manufactured foodstuff. However, any food manufacturer wants to make sure a specific line of their products is safer to consume.

At task, in this post, is Nestlé.

Nestlé has an idea for detecting Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) in infants. That, in and of itself, is a breakthrough idea. CMPA differs from Lactose Intolerance (LI) as the former triggers a reaction of the immune system, while LI triggers an uncomfortable (or painful) reaction in the gastrointestinal tract. CMPA also tends to show up in children under 3, while LI tends to show up later in life (often starting at puberty). Nestlé wants to cash in on the patch to detect CMPA.

I think the patch itself is a commendable idea. I support it. DBV Technologies is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company who has developed a skin patch for CMPA.

That said however, I’d be inclined to support it more if it had been a relatively impartial observer paying for it. Large research hospitals, while often supported by corporations, are a better option – provided they don’t accept food corporation funds for food-related illnesses. In a case like this, numerous practicing pediatricians can give clinical observations, and follow up with case histories of what was done to alleviate the symptoms. The hospitals can use that information, and clinical studies of the patients, to create a product to treat the cause.

I object that this skin patch, designed by DBV Technologies, is sponsored in part by a food company (Nestlé calls it a “strategic collaboration”*), instead of wholly paid for by non-food corporations.

Why would Nestlé do that? Why would they enter into a strategic collaboration with a pharmaceutical company? It’s simple: Nestlé has three products that it wants to sell to parents with ill infants and small children. Technically, it wants to sell it to pediatricians, who then give it to said parents. Therefore, it’s a monetary conflict of interest.

The non-invasive skin patch for detection of CMPA is a good idea. The more infants and children are saved from the debilitating effects of CMPA (and even LI), the better for them.

Nestlé paying for the development of the patch? Not so good.

How do you feel about this? Leave your answers in the comments below.

*Nestlé Health Science Partners with DBV on milk allergy detection tool: http://bit.ly/1t23iG0

(Comments close in 90 days.)