India’s food safety regulator FSSAI has decided to include two representatives from a front company for global food giants like Coca Cola and McDonald’s.
The representatives belong to the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), which is a US-based global non-profit ‘science organization’ financed by Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nestle and Pepsi, among other corporates. The ILSI was founded by Coca-Cola’s former senior vice president Alex Malaspina in 1978 and till 2015, it was led by Rhona Applebaum, Coke’s chief health and science officer.
The ILSI has organised conferences in India seeking to “downplay the role of sugar and diet, and promoting increased physical activity as the solution to obesity,” said the India Resource Center (IRC), condemning the development. A Harvard study published this January in The BMJ and the Journal of Public Health Policy said that through the ILSI’s China branch, Coca Cola and other corporates influenced China’s public health policies, with an alignment tilting towards Coca-Cola’s message that it is activity, not diet, a claim not accepted by all public health scholars.
The India Resource Center has written to the FSSAI and the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, asking that these two representatives be removed and replaced with independent experts.