The FACT principlesPrinciples of Engagement on research and other collaborations between the brewing sector and research entities
The FACT principles as well as a description of the adoption process have been published in the British Journal of Nutrition as a free access article: Principles of engagement on research and other collaborations between the brewing sector and research entities: the FACT Principles | British Journal of Nutrition | Cambridge Core
The FACT principles
Principles of Engagement on research and other collaborations between the brewing sector and research entities
Beer is a fermented beverage (regularly 0–12 % alcohol by volume) that has been consumed worldwide for thousands of years. It is a legitimate topic of scientific interest. The brewing sector has a long history of cooperation with research entities, such as universities, research centers and laboratories, either public or private. Research has focussed on the ingredients and properties of beer; the brewing process; and the nutritional, physiological and psychosocial aspects of beer consumption and its effects on human health. Alcohol consumption can lead to serious psychological and physiological diseases depending on alcohol content, drinking frequency and pre-existing health conditions, among other things[i]. And there are major social harms that can be caused by alcohol abuse, e.g., antisocial behaviour and unsafe sex[ii]. However, light-to-moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages of any kind is associated with some health-promoting effects[iii]. Science helps to find a balance in this double-edged sword of the health effects of alcohol consumption.
Research projects funded by industry and research collaborations between research entities and companies are being viewed increasingly critically. The results of such research are often questioned regardless of scientific quality. This also applies to cooperation between the brewing industry and research entities. This critical view is recognised by the brewing sector. The social and health relevance of alcohol consumption requires a rigorous and transparent approach to research on these issues. In collaboration between the brewing sector and research entities, it is of utmost importance to establish transparent and clear guidelines and to ensure these are followed.
A group of scientists and representatives of the brewing and food sectors have jointly set themselves the task of defining brewing sector-specific, transparent principles for research cooperation that recognise, prevent or exclude conflicts of interest and enable independent research to the highest scientific standards. The principles, as presented below, were developed by this group of scientists and representatives of the brewing and food sectors at a 1-day seminar, and they adhere to the following four elemental conditions: Freedom of research, Accessibility, Contextualisation and Transparency. Attendees at the seminar recommended that these so-called FACT Principles should form the basis for the proper and transparent governance of research and other collaborations between the brewing sector and research entities. They are based on the Dublin Principles[iv] and food and pharmaceutical principles of engagement.
Both the brewing sector and research entities must comply with the highest professional, scientific and ethical standards in conducting and reporting beer research, regardless of the source of funding. All research must adhere to the fundamental principles of research integrity as defined by the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity[v] as well as the Standard Operating Procedures for Research Integrity[vi].
The FACT Principles:
- Apply to all research collaborations between the brewing sector and public or private research entities, covering any research method and question. The FACT Principles do not apply to research that cannot commit to full transparency because of competitiveness and intellectual property rights.
- Apply to any other collaborations between the brewing sector and research entities, such as a scientist speaking for the brewing sector or at a symposium organised by the brewing sector, membership of a (scientific) committee for the brewing sector or providing scientific advice to the brewing sector.
Principle 1: freedom of research
The brewing sector and research entities should be able to investigate, independently or in collaboration, the whole spectrum of beer and beer consumption, with the purpose of gaining a better understanding of, for instance:
- The ingredients and properties of beer,
- The brewing process,
- The relationships between beer and all negative and positive nutritional, societal and cultural outcomes, including health and disease.
Principle 2: transparency
Research collaborations as well as any other type of collaboration between the brewing sector and research entities should be made transparent:
- In research collaborations, both parties are encouraged to actively endorse Open Science rules of conduct, meaning that methods and results are made accessible and reusable by all interested parties in society.
- Those involved in research or in communicating study results should adhere to the general principles of disclosing any interest that might be perceived as potentially affecting the design, conduct, analysis, interpretation or reporting of the research project. Moreover, all types of financial and/or in-kind support for research activities need to be acknowledged in any dissemination of the research.
- Any other communication by the brewing sector or by research entities collaborating with the brewing sector for research into beer or including beer (not specifically research funded by the brewing sector) should disclose the sender as well as any interests of the sender.
Principle 3: accessibility
As part of Open Science (Principle 2a), research conducted in collaboration between the brewing sector and research entities should be freely accessible. Both parties have a responsibility and should agree, irrespective of the outcomes, to:
- Making the research data available in public repositories following existing standards such as the FAIR Principles.[vii]
- Publishing all the results of their work in independent peer-reviewed journals, preferably open access journals, or otherwise disseminate their findings, for example, in publicly available reports or documents.
The collaborating parties should agree in advance on the planning of the scientific publication and further communications about the research project. In addition, they should agree under which circumstances, if any, publication can be delayed and for how long. Reasons may include the time needed to protect ethics and data safety, the time needed to protect proprietary information or to prepare for a public response in case of an unexpected outcome. Any delayed agreement in publication and communication will be overruled when the outcomes have whole-of-society public-health implications.
Principle 4: contextualisation
The communication of study results from research collaborations between the brewing sector and research entities or from research into beer or including beer in general (not specifically funded by the brewing sector) must comply with all relevant legislation, such as the EU or national legislation. For a better understanding of the research and to present a balanced picture, the results should be placed in the context of evaluated and recognised research and should consider the totality of evidence.
[i] Rehm, J, Gmel, GE, Gmel, G, et al. (2017) The relationship between different dimensions of alcohol use and the burden of disease—an update. Addict 112, 968–1001
[ii] Klingemann, H & Gmel, G (2001) Mapping Social Consequences of Alcohol Consumption. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers
[iii] Di Castelnuovo, A, Costanzo, S, Bonaccio, M, et al. (2021) Alcohol intake and total mortality in 142 960 individuals from the MORGAM Project: a population-based study. Addict 117, 312–325
[iv] ALLEA (2017) The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. Revised Edition. http://www.allea.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/ALLEA-European-Code-of-Conduct-for-Research-Integrity-2017.pdf (accessed September 2022).
[v] Standard Operating Procedures for Research Integrity (SOPs4RI) Achieve Research Integrity with our Toolbox. https://sops4ri.eu (accessed September 2022)
[vi] Standard Operating Procedures for Research Integrity (SOPs4RI) Achieve Research Integrity with our Toolbox. https://sops4ri.eu (accessed September 2022)
[vii] The FAIR Guiding Principles for Scientific Data Management and Stewardship provide guidelines to improve the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and Reusability of digital assets. Go Fair Fair Guiding Principles for Scientific Data Management and Stewardship. https://www.go-fair.org/fair-principles/ (accessed September 2022)