“I really wish there were healthier options”: a look at UTSC’s food scene

Food options, Highland Hall café, food quality issues at UTSC

“I really wish there were healthier options”: a look  at UTSC’s  food scene

Daria Khalimdarova, a second-year international student from Russia, heats up her food in one of the microwaves at UTSC. This time, it was chicken and rice.

“I am an international student who lives alone in Canada,” said Khalimdarova. “I spend a lot of time at school… so it was challenging for me to start cooking.” However, she said that limited food options, low food quality, and the food vendors’ early closing hours drove her to cancel her meal plan at UTSC and begin cooking for herself.

Most food vendors at Market Place close at 7:00 pm from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, most close at 4:00 pm. All food vendors at the Market Place are closed on weekends.

According to Food Partnerships’ Assistant Director Frank Peruzzi, they are in the process of developing a new five-year plan to improve the food at UTSC.

“A bubble tea concept is now open at Rex’s Den and a new café called ‘Gathering Grounds’ will soon open in Highland Hall,” Peruzzi told The Varsity. “When the new residence opens in the future, it will include a new dining hall with several new concepts and extended hours throughout the week and weekend.”

He said that when choosing new restaurant concepts, his management team discusses ideas and solicits students’ feedback via student surveys. The surveys are held every two years.

“There are a lot of international students coming from different backgrounds including myself who are struggling to adapt to local food,” said Khalimdarova. “I would love to see some changes towards making different meal options available across the UTSC campus.”

Luke Zhang, a second-year Computer Science student, also complained about the food quality at UTSC. “The healthy options are overpriced in my opinion,” said Zhang.

He cited fruit at Market Place as an example. “I really wish there were healthier options, but there aren’t so I usually settle for a burrito bowl at the local kitchen or a pizza at Pizza Pizza.”

There have also been numerous food quality incidents at UTSC. One of them took place in March, when a student found a winged insect in her food from Asian Gourmet, a restaurant in UTSC’s Student Centre.

Then in August, a “caterpillar-like bug” was found in a first year’s food during the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union’s (SCSU) frosh week.

The most recent bug incident took place on October 15, when another insect was found in Asian Gourmet food.

All restaurants in the Student Centre are separately leased with the SCSU as the landlord.

After the August incident, the SCSU said executives “would be attending Food Handling courses” in preparation for future events.

The SCSU also told The Varsity that it was “disappointed in the recent incident at Asian Gourmet and is currently investigating the matter.”

Zhang thinks that the food quality of the food chain vendors at the Student Centre are poor “compared to the same chain restaurants in other places.”

“Toronto Health Department [assesses] the food safety risk of each vendor and schedule[s] inspections accordingly,” said Peruzzi. “A fresh fruit vendor will likely be inspected fewer times than a burger shop.”

Peruzzi said that each food vendor separately selects its own supplier. He said that he is unaware about whether SCSU executives are trained in restaurant management.

The SCSU has not responded to The Varsity‘s requests for comment.

Another insect reportedly found in Asian Gourmet food at UTSC

Similar incident occurred in March

Another insect reportedly found in Asian Gourmet food at UTSC

Another bug has apparently been found in food from Asian Gourmet, a restaurant in UTSC’s Student Centre. The discovery was made on October 14 by UTSC student Edison Liu, who was having a long study session when he found what appeared to be a larva in his food.

A similar incident occurred last March, when another UTSC student found a “large winged insect” on her bok choy from Asian Gourmet.

Liu posted about the incident on the “UTSC Bird Courses” group on Facebook, where he included a photo of the insect on his food. The insect also seemed to be on a piece of bok choy.

PHOTO VIA EDISON LIU/FACEBOOK

“I asked for a refund,” Liu wrote to The Varsity. “But the lady didn’t even say sorry. She said bugs from veggies [are] not bad for me.”

Asian Gourmet confirmed the incident. “It’s very difficult to control,” said Asian Gourmet to The Varsity. “We [buy] the veggies from the supermarket. Sometimes [the insect] is hiding inside. Even if we cut it very carefully, we can’t see… we clean two times, three times, but now more carefully.”

Asian Gourmet also said that many Chinese restaurants have a similar issue with their vegetables, and that students should always be careful when eating in particular Chinese greens like bok choy.

“Tell the students we’re so sorry, we’re so sorry for what happened,” said Asian Gourmet.

All food vendors in the Student Centre operate with the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) as the landlord.

The Varsity has reached out to the SCSU for comment.

U of T alum’s startup offered $150,000 Dragon’s Den deal

Leila Keshavjee’s ice pops pave path to sweet future

U of T alum’s startup offered $150,000 Dragon’s Den deal

U of T Kinesiology alum Leila Keshavjee’s startup has landed a sweet deal.

On the recently aired season 13 premiere of reality television show Dragon’s Den, Keshavjee’s healthy ice popsicle startup Happy Pops was offered a $150,000 investment and access to a business accelerator in exchange for 30 per cent equity.

“It was definitely a little more equity than I said I wanted to give up initially going in,” says Keshavjee. “[But] I went with my gut… I have this offer now and I think it’s 100 per cent the best fit.”

Happy Pops was born out of Keshavjee’s desire to create a product that was “a healthier alternative to what’s already out there but still tasted good.”

Through her Kinesiology degree, Keshavjee learned about nutrition and the many ways that sugar can be hidden on food labels. “I wanted to have a product [with ingredients] that anybody could pronounce… There was no hiding.”

While still an undergraduate student at U of T, Keshavjee enrolled in IMC200 — Innovation and Entrepreneurship and IMC390 — Internship in New Venture, where she learned about what it takes to start a business.

Later, she sought advice and support from U of T’s Impact Centre, which she credits with supporting her entrepreneurial adventure. “When you’re running a business, you’re often alone in the startup phase… The opportunities to interact with other entrepreneurs… is one of the most valuable things. You can learn so much from each other.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEILA KESHAVJEE

She started her ice pop business after graduating from U of T in 2016, when, with funding from her father, she purchased an ice pop business that had a 1,000-square-foot commercial kitchen but no retail products.

“When I started, I made all the popsicles myself for the first month. So I used to cut the fruit, blend it all, put it in the popsicle mould, seal them, wash all the dishes and all that.” Now that the business has grown, Keshavjee’s role is primarily focused on sales and marketing.

She describes running her own business and building a brand as filled with constant ups and downs. “You could be cold-calling for days. Or, someone could reach out to you and say, ‘Hey, I wanna have you in my store’… Getting people to know who you are as a brand and trust you hasn’t been easy but it’s definitely been a great learning experience.”

On the encouragement of her friends, Keshavjee auditioned for Dragon’s Den in Toronto, which was among the 38 stops the show made across the country. She waited for four hours among many other worthy businesses. She describes the audition process as intense: “You really just have to block out everybody around you and focus on your pitch.”

After being placed on the standby list, she was called and given three days’ notice to appear on Dragon’s Den. She had to prepare her presentation over that weekend, making sure it was entertaining and that the product looked perfect.

Going into the den, Keshavjee was nervous. “I was nauseous, I was sleep-deprived, I was excited… I [had] watched this show for so long.” However, she relaxed when she saw that the investors liked her product.

During her 45 minutes of filming, four of the six investors made offers for Happy Pops.

Keshavjee made her final decision in about a minute. Originally seeking $50,000 for 10 per cent equity, she is finalizing an offer from Arlene Dickinson, whom she knew that she wanted to work with going in, of $150,000 for 30 per cent equity.

To other students looking to start their own businesses, Keshavjee says, “Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t be afraid to take a risk, especially while you’re young. Now is the time to try these things.”

Tom Brady’s peculiar diet

Brady claims to drink somewhere between 12 and 25 glasses of water per day

Tom Brady’s peculiar diet

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — a five-time Super Bowl Champion and three-time NFL MVP — is widely considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time. Lately, however, Brady has been endorsing some rather strange dieting habits.

Brady developed these methods with his best friend and ‘body coach’ Alex Guerrero. Guerrero, however, has been caught up in a number of controversies, including lying about being a medical doctor.

Guerrero has also been investigated by the American Federal Trade Commission twice: the first time for starring in an infomercial for a product called Supreme Greens, which claimed to be able to cure “cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease”; the second for advertising a similar product, NeuroSafe, which was advertised as being endorsed by Brady himself.

In September 2017, Brady released his book, The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. In this book, Brady detailed exactly what he eats every day. One main feature of his diet is an absurd amount of liquids.

In the mornings, Brady doesn’t eat a full meal. When he wakes up at 6:00 am, he drinks 20 ounces of water infused with electrolytes. He then drinks a smoothie containing blueberries, bananas, nuts, and seeds. Two hours later, he has another glass of electrolyte-infused water, and a post-workout protein shake. Brady claims to drink somewhere between 12 and 25 glasses of water per day.

He also heavily encourages snacking. He usually snacks at around 11:00 am, just before lunch. For lunch, Brady will usually have a piece of fish and a lot of vegetables. In the afternoon, he may have another protein shake or protein bar, and around 6:00 pm, Brady eats dinner, which, again, consists of mostly vegetables.

His book provides recipes for chicken and salmon burgers, green salads, and a creamy pasta sauce — which is odd, considering that he supposedly rarely eats carbs. But even Brady treats himself sometimes. He doesn’t often eat dessert, but he does give a recipe for his famous avocado ice cream.

His book also contains several strange rules for eating. Brady won’t eat carbohydrates and protein together. He recommends eating carbs or protein with vegetables instead, as he believes that this is better for digestion.

Brady’s chef Allen Campbell says that 80 per cent of his diet is vegetables and the rest of his diet is mostly duck, grass-fed organic steak, salmon, and sometimes, chicken.

Brady follows what he refers to as an alkaline diet, in order to minimize muscle inflammation. This entails limiting ‘acidifying foods,’ which mostly includes starch and dairy. Brady will not drink water 30 minutes before a meal, and will wait an hour after a meal before drinking another glass.

What is even more bizarre is the list of foods that Brady doesn’t eat. For Brady, caffeine, white sugar, salt, white flour, dairy, and all nightshade vegetables tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and mushrooms are completely off the table. He also won’t consume olive oil if it’s used in cooking but he’ll have it raw. And he won’t eat fruit, unless it’s in a smoothie.

While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with Brady’s diet, and it clearly isn’t hindering his play on the field, many of the specific effects that his diet is supposed to have are not backed by scientific evidence.

He claims that limiting acidifying foods helps control the body’s pH balance. However, what one eats actually has little effect on the body’s pH. Your lungs and kidneys control pH levels automatically.

Brady also claims that this diet can decrease inflammation in the body. While dieting actually does have an effect on the body’s inflammation levels, the extreme methods that Brady takes to avoid inflammation are unnecessary. Typically, having a balanced diet with less processed foods is a solid start.

At 41 years old, which is already ancient in football years, Brady says he wants to play at least another five years. While he is certainly capable, his diet probably won’t go very far in helping him achieve this goal.

What’s behind the increase of vegans in the NBA?

Basketball players are joining the animal-free wave

What’s behind the increase of vegans in the NBA?

One of the rising nutritional trends among athletes today is veganism. This is especially pronounced in the the world of basketball, where more and more players are turning toward vegan diets and lifestyles.

A vegan is defined as someone who doesn’t eat animals or any animal products, which includes all meat, poultry, fish, seafood and dairy products.

As athletes continue to devise strategies to increase performance, ideas around diet and nutrition have also evolved, whether that be hiring personal chefs or even nutritionists to watch what they put into their bodies. The amount that NBA players invest into themselves has dramatically increased over the past decade, with keeping track of their diets and what caused them to be injured being among the leading forces in the so-called revolution.

“I had a recurring injury in my knee,” free agent Jahlil Okafor told SB Nation. “I just kept getting hurt and my knee was always inflamed. The main cause of my knee being swollen was dairy. I cut dairy, watched a few documentaries. Then, I cut out steak, cut out chicken, then gradually started cutting out every animal-based product.”

“Now I’m just an all-out vegan,” added Okafor.

Okafor is not alone in the NBA’s latest growing trend, with Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo, and Wilson Chandler taking up the vegan way of life.

The changing nature of basketball play coincides with this trend. According to Bleacher Report, the NBA has been leaning toward playing ‘small ball,’ a style of play in which the emphasis is placed on leaner athletes who play a variety of positions to outpace and ultimately outrun their opponents. The rise of small ball has seen a decrease in the weight of players since 2013.

It’s important that NBA players on vegan diets have still been able to maintain strength training during the offseason. Performance-wise, players want to increase muscle mass to increase weight, making them more likely to overwhelm an opposing defender when posting up or finishing through a contact at the rim on a layup attempt. Putting on this muscle weight has traditionally been done through high-carbohydrate, high-protein diets.

However, if players add too much muscle, they’ll become too slow to keep up with the faster, more agile players, and they will have endurance issues throughout the game, making them less effective. This can lower minutes on the court in the short term, and, in the long term, it will affect a player’s market value. Vegan diets can allow players to put on enough muscle to stay competitive on the court without running the risk of being too heavy in an increasingly fast game.

Veganism also isn’t unique to the NBA. Despite the rigorous training and dietary requirements in the NFL, 11 members of the Tennessee Titans followed in linebacker Wesley Woodward’s footsteps and adopted a plant-based diet.

Woodward told AP Sports, “My energy level’s gone up… It’s just putting in good fuel to your body. And of course, it’s always hard to keep weight on this time of the season. But it’s worth it for me staying on top of my health.”

NFL quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady both enjoy near vegan diets; Rodgers has cut out dairy from his diet but still indulges in red meat and fish, while Brady credits not consuming dairy or inflammatory foods like peppers, mushrooms, and eggplants to his career’s longevity as he continues to play at a high level at 41.

All things considered, it appears that the traditional idea of bulking up with lots of meat is waning in popularity, and new ideas are being tried, both for competitive purposes and for personal health. It will be up to the players to decide what is right for them.

And while professional athletes are on a different level from the average person, for those of us who are more health conscious, the same benefits on a micro level can be applied here. For example, due to the lower amount of saturated fats and cholesterol consumed in a vegan diet, cardiovascular health is improved, reducing the risk of heart disease. And eating anti-inflammatory foods like kale, spinach, tomatoes, and blueberries can increase energy levels.

In the end, though we aren’t professional athletes, let alone elite basketball players, the fact that more athletes are gravitating toward health conscious options underscores an important emphasis on health and well-being. That should push us toward the ultimate goal of a better lifestyle, on our own terms.

UTSU to pilot online grocery store project with FoodReach

Full program rollout at Student Commons expected September 2018

UTSU to pilot online grocery store project with FoodReach

 

The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) will be starting an online grocery store in the next academic year. The service will allow members to order goods online and have them shipped to and stored at the union’s office at 12 Hart House Circle.

The project is in collaboration with non-profit organization FoodReach, which works with agencies that serve local communities and connects them with food wholesalers.

FoodReach provides lower prices by buying in bulk. FoodReach Project Lead Alvin Rebick said that the group acts as a large buying organization that distributes to smaller partners. “This allows agencies with smaller budgets to benefit from pricing that would otherwise only be available to large purchasing bodies.”

The organization “was established to address issues of food access and improved food quality & service to agencies and schools,” wrote Rebick.

According to UTSU Vice-President University Affairs Adrian Huntelar, the program “is being seriously considered for the transition to the Student Commons,” which is expected to be complete in September. The UTSU office is not a suitable permanent home for the program due to a lack of storage space in the office at Hart House Circle.

“We cannot responsibly provide a service that involves perishable food unless we have proper storage space, meaning fridges, freezers, and solid storage rooms,” said Huntelar. “Right now, the UTSU office is simply not equipped to handle large quantities of groceries.”

This won’t stop the union from at least piloting the project. Huntelar sees the program as playing an important role in ensuring food security for students. “The main group that this supports is those who live off-campus without access to a dining hall,” said Huntelar, “but also who are responsible for essentially making their own food.”

With the Student Commons on the horizon, the UTSU also hopes to move the Food Bank, which has been operating in the Multi-Faith Centre every Friday, to the new building to allow for operation every weekday.

Win your next potluck with this killer mac and cheese

A comfort food classic for the holiday season

Win your next potluck with this killer mac and cheese

I love holiday potlucks — in theory. In an attempt to impress my friends and steer away from the usual chips, dips, and desserts, I always end up plotting something far too complicated. Last year, I spent an entire day in the kitchen trying — and failing — to produce some magnificent enchiladas I had dreamed up, only to show up at the party with something that strongly resembled brown mush with a side of guacamole. Needless to say, it was not the first dish to run out.

This year, I’m determined to have a popular dish, and what better way to please my friends than with a dish that all students love? So I’m cooking up a creamy, gooey, homemade mac and cheese that even the pickiest of students will devour.

This potluck season, keep it simple and give the people what they want. Put those traumatizing potluck memories behind you, lace up your apron, and be prepared to win potluck season with this killer mac and cheese.

If you’re making this dish ahead of time, cool the pasta and cheese sauce separately before combining them in the baking dish. Cover and refrigerate up to two days. When you remove it from the fridge, heat for 20 minutes at 350º F, then stir in ½ to 1 cup of warm milk. Return to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes. Top with bread crumbs, broil for two to three minutes, and then cover and keep warm until serving!

Homemade mac and cheese

Total time: 30 minutes

Serves: 8

  • 4 cups macaroni pasta (1 lb)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 3 ½ cups milk + extra as needed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 ½ tbsp flour
  • ½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350º F.

2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water — use about 1 tbsp of salt for each pound of pasta — until al dente, or until just slightly crunchy and undercooked. Drain the pasta into a colander and let cool while making the sauce. Don’t keep the pasta cooling in the pot you cooked it in, otherwise it will stick to the bottom!

3. Warm the milk in a pot over the stove or in a microwave-safe container in the microwave until hot but not boiling, which should take about two and a half minutes. Set aside. Cook 1 tbsp butter and grated onion in a pan for two minutes over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk the mixture together. Don’t worry if it clumps! Cook the mixture like this for one minute. Very slowly, pour in the hot milk, whisking vigorously to remove the clumps.

4. Stir in the salt, pepper, ½ tsp cayenne, and mustard and let the sauce simmer over medium heat until thickened, about five to seven minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more cayenne, salt, and pepper as needed. Take the pot off the heat and slowly whisk in the grated cheddar until melted and smooth.

5. Return the pasta to the pot and pour in the sauce. Stir until combined. The mixture should be creamy but still quite runny — aim for the runniness of Kraft Dinner. If it’s too thick, slowly add about a ½ cup more milk until you achieve a runnier texture.

6. Pour the pasta into a two-quart baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.

7. Melt 1 tbsp butter and stir in breadcrumbs and parsley. Remove the pasta from the oven, sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly on top, and broil for two to three minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Remove and serve!

Greased palms and greasy food

Private industry influences in the nutritional and pharmaceutical sciences need more transparency

Greased palms and greasy food

In 1994, political satirist Christopher Buckley released Thank You for Smoking, a farcical account narrating the woes of tobacco industry lobbyist Nick Naylor that was later adapted into a critically acclaimed film. The twin works accomplished more than simple entertainment. They showcased the inner workings of ‘Big Tobacco’ and the manners in which private industries alter public perception of scientific research.

Although we may imagine ourselves in 2017 to be better informed via the internet of possible corporate chicanery, there are still many ways in which private industries, like Naylor, “filter” the truth.

However, all of this begs the question: why is private funding a concern? The empirical answer is that the source of a research study’s finances may very well bias its conclusions. In one paper, researchers discovered that out of 206 articles on the health effects of non-alcoholic beverages, an industry-backed paper was more than seven times more likely to have a favourable conclusion than a paper with no industry funding.

Much like cigarettes in past decades, junk foods are one of the main comforting or relaxing vices we turn to. And, like their predecessor, there is a scientific consensus that junk foods are harmful to one’s health. Thus, as one might expect, the titans of the junk food industry have spent vast amounts of money funding nutritional research that they hope will either vindicate their products or discover some hitherto-unknown benefit to consumption in large quantities.

A recent target is the US National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health study. The study will measure a sample group’s cardiovascular health as they consume 15 g of alcohol once a day for 90 months. The results will be compared to a control group that has stayed sober for the same period.

Although it is a publicly funded organization, the NIH was unable to obtain financial backing from the US Congress to carry out the study, forcing it to look for private backers. Unfortunately, this has led to the dubious arrangement of 67 million USD being provided by a cabal composed of companies Anheuser-Busch InBev, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Heineken, and Carlsberg — all among the largest producers of alcoholic beverages in the world.

Some private entities don’t stop at funding otherwise unaffiliated scientists. For organizations with the means and finances, it is not unheard of to create an entirely new corporate branch or private laboratory dedicated to the research of their choice. Frequently, these labs operate solely for the purposes of research and development of new products, such as Google’s Verily Life Science, which is currently developing smart contact lenses.

Other times, scientists research the health benefits and shortfalls of already existing products. A prime example is Mars, Inc.’s Center for Cocoa Health Science, dedicated to unravelling the multifaceted mysteries of the cocoa bean, since its inception in 2012. Mars, Inc. has published studies in over 140 peer-reviewed academic journals since the early 1980s.

In 2013, one paper analyzed industry and non-industry funded studies on the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain. They found that industry-funded papers were five times more likely to determine that there was no link.

Furthermore, there is evidence that industry-backed research not only yields biased theoretical results, but it may distract from effective applications as well. A study found that randomized controlled trials proposed by researchers funded by private companies were less than half as likely than independent researchers to propose a change in diet as a method to combat obesity.

All of this points to a need for greater transparency from researchers. “The funding, research, study design, data analysis, manuscript writing, and publication — all of which are part of the process and all require full transparency,” said Dr. Mary R. L’Abbé, Chair of U of T’s Department of Nutritional Sciences. “Not all should be controlled by the funder… Once the study is funded, its conduct, analysis, and publication are based on the study results, not the funder’s needs or objectives.”

But there are more links in the experiment-to-announcement chain than just the researchers themselves. Once conclusions are drawn and test tubes are put back in the cabinet, scholars must have their findings published in an academic journal to see their results applied beyond the laboratory. Of course, academic journals are also staffed and edited by humans who, like researchers, are then also potential recipients of a corporate payoff.

Published in September in the British Medical Journal, a paper by five University Health Network scientists looked at the growing practice of private industries giving financial payments to academic journal editors.

They scrutinized the payments made to 713 editors from 52 American medical journals. The main measure sought was the amount of money in USD received from private pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers by each study participant in 2014. All participants were at least associate editors in the publishing hierarchy, and all journals were cited as influential.

The authors divided the payments into two categories: research payments, which were for research related activities such as coordinating clinical trial enrolment, and general payments, which were for items more particular to the recipient such as meal or flight reimbursements. Due to their more ambiguous and personal nature, general payments were the focus of the paper.

They discovered that while editors received a median general payment of $11, the mean general payment was a whopping $28,136. This massive right-skew to the data can be explained by the fact that editors in certain esoteric fields, such as endocrinology or cardiology, seemed to attract much more money.

“It is speculative, but certain fields, such as cardiology and orthopedics, have developed innovation in medical devices and this may be driving the increased payments by industry to physician editors in these fields,” explained lead author Dr. Jessica Liu. “Other specialties, such as endocrinology, have innovation in novel drug development to an extent that is not seen in other fields, such as pathology or family medicine, for example.”

Evidently, there is a problem with privately funded research in academia. In her paper, Liu called for editors-in-chief of academic journals to consider the possibility of excluding industry-tied individuals from editorial positions.

However, there are issues with this approach. “This is where a blanket rule on conflict of interest doesn’t exactly work to me. It’s a small world out there after all; if you start eliminating these kinds of conflicts-of-interests you’re not going to be left with many experts,” said Dr. Emanuel Istrate, who is coordinator of VIC172Y1, a course focused on the interactions between society and science and the ethical responsibilities of scientists. “You can find a million people who have no industry ties, but how qualified are they?”

Once more, it seems that the answer lies in increased transparency. “We propose that a good place to start would be for all journals to have accessible, comprehensive, and transparent conflict of interest policies for editors,” said Liu.

Istrate, too, is optimistic. “Now most pharma journals declare conflict of interest or at least declare there is no conflict of interests. Journals are starting to insist a lot more on seeing the reliability of the statistics so that you can’t just have bad statistics or bad sample sizes and just hide it under the rug. So, I’m optimistic things are changing.”