WASHINGTON- Last week, an intriguing new study stated that cutting back on red meat consumption might not provide any extra health benefits. 

However, a New York Times report said that the lead author of the study, Bradley Johnston, an associate professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, failed to disclose work that he did years ago for agribusiness and food trade association, International Life Science Institute (ILSI). Some companies associated with the trade group are McDonald’s and Cargill. 

Johnston said in the report that his previous work with ILSI did not influence his research on meat. 

The original study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Sept. 30 said there was no reason for people to eat less red meat  following five systematic reviews.

The reviews by NutriRECS, a group of health researchers and nutritionists, looked at the impact of unprocessed red meat and processed meat had on cancer, cardiovascular disease and mortality. The team was made up of authors from seven countries.

“Based on the research, we cannot say with any certainty that eating red or processed meat causes cancer, diabetes or heart disease,” Johnston said.

He also stated that following millions of participants, there was a small reduction in risk amongst people who consumed three fewer servings of red or processed meat per week. Still, the certainty of the evidence was low to very low.

“Among 12 randomized control trials enrolling about 54,000 individuals, we did not find a statistically significant or an important association in the risk of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes for those that consumed less red and processed meat,” Johnston said.

The study recommended the majority of people, but not everyone, could continue their red and processed meat consumption. During the study, Johnston and research looked only at health outcomes and did not consider animal welfare or environmental issues. 

In the past few years, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the World Health Organization both said red and processed meat contributed to certain cancers.

This NutriRECS study also received criticism from the American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health among others.