Document Type : Commentary
School of Public Health, University of Queensland, Herston, QLD, Australia
MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge, UK
The issue of public health and policy communities engaging with food sector companies has long caused tension and debate. Ralston and colleagues’ article ‘Towards Preventing and Managing Conflict of Interest in Nutrition Policy? An Analysis of Submissions to a Consultation on a Draft WHO Tool’ further examines this issue. They found widespread food industry opposition, not just to the details of the World Health Organization (WHO) tool, but to the very idea of it. In this commentary we reflect on this finding and the arguments for and against interacting with the food industry during different stages of the policy process. While involving the food industry in certain aspects of the policy process without favouring their business goals may seem like an intractable problem, we believe there are opportunities for progress that do not compromise our values as public health professionals. We suggest three key steps to making progress.