Conflicts of interest at work

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This story from Australia illustrates the pickle that some organisations can get into when they forget to check sponsors for conflicts of interest.



Doctors perplexed by muesli bar push from Nestle, charity

MARK HAWTHORNE January 16, 2014

Illustration: Matt Golding


Nestle and the charity Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia are under fire for encouraging schools to allow a new range of Uncle Tobys ''lunchbox friendly'' muesli bars into playgrounds, even though they could be dangerous for people with nut allergies.

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA) - which receives funding from Nestle, owner of Uncle Tobys - has worked with the world's biggest food company to develop the range of muesli bars.

The charity and Nestle admit they should not be eaten by anyone with a nut allergy. A&AA is also asking schools to reconsider bans on nuts in the schoolyard.

In a case that mirrors the decision by the Heart Foundation to endorse some McDonald's food with a ''tick'', a number of doctors and parents say the tie-up between Nestle and A&AA is confounding for schools and consumers.

''I'm confused, and I work in the industry,'' said Sydney-based paediatric allergist Elizabeth Pickford. ''I think the 'lunchbox friendly' labelling is really deceptive. Mums are going to think this is a safe product when they see it.''

Last month Nestle and A&AA wrote directly to student welfare officers at thousands of schools and kindergartens nationwide.