In response to a rapidly-changing market for food, PepsiCo has recently made extensive changes to its research programs in an effort to expand its portfolio of healthy products, and to make its staple snack products healthier and safer to use. This push into nutritional science involves increased use of human subjects in research. PepsiCo has called on the Yale Bioethics Center for help in developing ethical guidelines for human-subjects nutritional research. The new guidelines are designed 1) to ensure compliance with existing federal and international standards; 2) when necessary, to adapt those standards, which were mostly developed with drug-research in mind, to nutritional research; 3) to offer additional voluntary protections to human subjects participating in nutrition research; and 4) to raise industry standards with regard to the conduct, registration and publication of research. A separate document will establish ethical standards for the use in research of new brain-tracking technologies like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The Yale Bioethics Center will also offer trainings in research ethics to PepsiCo research staff.
The guidelines developed at Yale will be peer-reviewed by independent nutritional researchers and bioethicists, and submitted to academic journals for publication.