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Expert witness From September 2009 newsletter

Expert witness in food and drink manufacturing

When commercial or legal disputes arise in a food manufacturing or trading situation, staff are often called upon to give their expert opinion o n a particular issue. Before acting for a client we will always make sure that we have the required knowledge, as Philip Richardson, Head of Food Manufacturing Technologies, explains:

"We get a lot of approaches, but it is crucial to identify up front that we are truly expert in the focused area of the enquiry and not just in the approximate area - this would be easily seized upon by barristers in a Court of Law."

We have a significant number of scientists and technologists with indepth knowledge of a wide range of food manufacturing-related topics - from identification of foreign bodies through authenticity and engineering aspects to storage-related issues. Key skills are often data and knowledge acquisition, subsequent analysis and finally preparation of a technical opinion.

As well as commenting on a particular issue, we are also often asked to critically evaluate statements from others, or to produce joint statements, sometimes with representatives of the 'other side' in the dispute. In many cases, an expert opinion from Campden BRI will help stop a case from going to a Court of Law - by clearly showing what the scientific facts are. Among the many specific areas in which we have been involved are wheat suitability for end use, product contamination with cooling fluid, can corrosion, the origin of particular foreign bodies, meat speciation, fruit and vegetable damage during storage, and food poisoning outbreaks.

Wine science and technology provides another example of where our expertise is called upon to help settle disputes or inform legal proceedings, as Geoff Taylor of Campden BRI´s Corkwise subsidiary explains:

"As well as wine producers, importers, buyers and others in the trade, we work with insurers, loss adjustors and patent specialists, for example, to help where disputes arise within the wine supply chain.These include problems with quality, spoilage, taints and contamination of bulk or bottled wine, as well problems arising from packaging or storage. Because of the long shelf-life of wine, untangling the technical history of the problem calls for considerable technical insight into the way in which wine is produced, stored, handled, packaged and distributed, and often involves the challenge of presenting this in lay terms for the relevant bodies to interpret."

We have a number of staff with specialist expertise in various areas. A selection of contact names appears below.


Allergens - Anton Alldrick
+44(0)1386 842127

Meat speciation - Helen Brown
+44(0)1386 842016

Fruit and vegetables - Richard Stanley
+44(0)1386 842004

Refrigeration - Martin George
+44(0)1386 842037

Foreign body contaminants - Mike Edwards
+44(0)1386 842017

Packaging - Alan Campbell
+44(0)1386 842018

Wine (Nutfield site) - Geoff Taylor
+44(0)1737 824244