New twist in Noakes case
The Medical Research Council is expected to probe a senior employee accused of teaming up with "big sugar" to discredit Banting-diet champion Tim Noakes.
A recent investigation in the US linked Ali Dhansay to the International Life Sciences Institute, described as a "Coca-Cola proxy".
Dhansay, former director of the now defunct nutritional intervention research unit at the council, was president of the institute in South Africa in 2013 and worked with Coca-Cola, Mars and Nestlé.
This week the Medical Research Council's executive committee distanced itself from Dhansay's evidence given at Noakes' Health Professions' Council of SA disciplinary hearing. It said it would investigate his alleged links to the sugar industry.
Spokesman Aziel Gangerdine said the council would investigate "Dhansay's position in his capacity as president of the institute and the funding thereof; any association of research conducted in the field of nutrition, obesity and lifestyle with funding or support from the sugar/beverage food industry; any association by way of expert opinion or scientific advice in the field of nutrition, obesity and lifestyle to the sugar/beverage food industry; and any monies received in lieu of such advisory services."
Gangerdine said the nutritional unit Dhansay headed had been disbanded as a result of "a recent organisational redesign".
"The council is not associated with any of Dhansay's testimony in the Health Professions' Council proceedings, neither can the council be associated with any of the relations Dhansay is reported to have with the sugar industry, Coca-Cola or the institute."
In a statement to the Sunday Times, the institute said it "does not have activities related to infant nutrition, nor has it ever addressed the health effects of low-carbohydrate diets and has never been part of any discussion related to Noakes or his recommendations for nutrition and health".
Coca Cola said: "The allegations against Coca-Cola are not true."
Dhansay failed to respond to requests for comment.