The Coca-Cola Company has funded research by respected think tank the South African Institute for Race Relations (IRR) on taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), reports Fin24.
The IRR subsequently used the paper to engage the National Treasury as to the detriments imposing the proposed Sugar tax would have on the economy.
“The IRR actively sought out this project by approaching groups that were likely to be negatively affected and asking for funding to do this research,” media and public affairs officer Kelebogile Leepile told Fin24.
This was confirmed by Coca-Cola head of communications Zipporah Maubane: “In response to a proposal by the IRR, the Coca-Cola system agreed to fund a research study examining the socio-economic impact of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.”
The amount of funding provided by Coca-Cola to conduct the research has not been disclosed.
Marion Nestle, a renowned US consumer advocate, nutritionist, acclaimed author and academic believes that this non-disclosure is not unusual and has been a serious strategy of the beverage industry to fund research that comes out with results that favour the industry’s interests.
“If you see a study funded by a soda company or trade association, you can be almost 100% sure that its results will please its funder,” said the professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.