New Framework for Public-Private Partnerships Stresses Transparency in Food and Nutrition Research

July 8, 2015

CHICAGO—The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) joined with organizations representing 100,000 scientists and health professionals to unveil a framework for food, nutrition, and health research involving public-private partnerships. The framework consists of principles that address integrity and promote public health in the conduct of food and nutrition research collaborations among public, nonprofit, and private sectors.

The principles were announced on June 16, 2015 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. and in addition to IFT, have been approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Society for Nutrition, International Association for Food Protection, and International Life Sciences Institute North America.

From a Journal of Food Science commentary written by IFT President Mary Ellen Camire, PhD, CFS and IFT Past President Janet E. Collins, PhD, RD, CFS, “Although public-private partnerships are not a new concept, the IFT leadership believes that these guiding principles can lead to fruitful partnerships that benefit the food industry, universities, and the public, and that the transparency of proceedings advocated by these 12 principles will strengthen consumer confidence in such partnerships.”

The principles are outlined below. To read the full commentary in the Journal of Food Science, please visit:

Prerequisite principle 

  1. Have a clearly defined and achievable goal to benefit the public.
  2. Governance principles 

  3. Articulate a governance structure including a clear statement of work, rules, and partner roles, responsibilities, and accountability, to build in trust, transparency, and mutual respect as core operating principles—acknowledging there may be “deal breakers” precluding the formation of an effective partnership in the first place.
  4. Ensure that objectives will meet stakeholder partners’ public and private needs, with a clearly defined baseline to monitor progress and measure success.
  5. Operational principles 

  6. Consider the importance of balance, ensure that all members possess appropriate levels of bargaining power.
  7. Minimize conflict of interest by recruiting a sufficient number of partners to mitigate influence by any single member and to broaden private-sector perspectives and expertise.
  8. Engage partners who agree on specific and fundable (or supportable through obtainable resources) research questions to be addressed by the partnership.
  9. Enlist partners how are committed to the long term as well as to the sharing of funding and research data.
  10. Along with government and the private sector, include academics and other members of civil society (e.g. foundations, NGOs, consumers) as partners.
  11. Select objective measurements capable of providing common ground for both public and private-sector research goals.
  12. Adopt research questions and methodologies established by partners with transparency on all competitive interests, ideally in the precompetitive space.
  13. Be flexible in implementing the PPP process.
  14. Ensure ongoing transparent communications both among partners and between the PPP and the public.

About IFT

Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit

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