An Ultra-Processed Retraction – Still Processing

“Swift and decisive” was the decision by the Editor-in-Chief of Nutrition and Health. This is how Luis-Enrique Becerra-Garcia described the response to errors in a publication on educating women with obesity about ultra-processed foods. The authors had claimed to find significant effects on weight, quality of life, pain, and metabolic syndrome. Becerra-Garcia and colleagues found analytical errors, corrected them, and found that, actually, these data demonstrate “no such effects.” So the editor swiftly decided upon a retraction of this study of ultra-processed food education. He told Retraction Watch:

“The main reason for retraction includes significant issues in statistical analysis of data and wrong presentation of conclusion.”

Can’t We Just Withdraw It Quietly?

The authors did not agree with this swift action. Faced with a recommendation to either correct their analysis or retract the paper, they asked for the paper to be withdrawn without comment. This would not suffice, said editor Nauman Khalid, because it would go against the journal’s ethical standards. Errors require correction.

But before this retraction actually happens, it will have to be ultra-processed. Sage, the journal’s publisher, says they are “actively investigating this in accordance with COPE guidelines.” COPE is the Committee on Publication Ethics. Meticulously following COPE guidelines gives the publisher a bit of cover in case authors get twitchy about having their work retracted.

We’re glad to see an editor acting swiftly and taking care to correct the scientific record. Even so, a retraction has trouble traveling at the speed of hype – and there’s plenty of hype about the terrifying danger of ultra-processed food.

Click here for the original paper, here for discussion of its errors, and here for more from Retraction Watch.

U-Turn, illustration by Smurrayinchester, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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October 21, 2023

3 Responses to “An Ultra-Processed Retraction – Still Processing”

  1. October 21, 2023 at 6:52 am, P. Yarkin said:

    Interesting that a retraction that favours industrial food products is embraced so quickly.

    • October 21, 2023 at 7:49 am, Ted said:

      It’s the deep food conspiracy at work.

  2. October 21, 2023 at 10:26 am, EAW said:

    It appears the retraction is only in favor of correct data. Processing rhetoric is as much a threat to ensuring a scientific and holistic way forward as every other misuse of terms and the spread of clickbait propaganda.