Client Stories

Our experience

Here are some examples of projects that Acumentia consultants have undertaken. Most of our commercial activities are confidential but these case studies give a flavour of how we can help you.

Answering a regulatory question for a health food ingredient manufacturer

A comprehensive analytical programme was undertaken by Chris Lawson to support claims made by a North American health food company about a an anti-obesity product, which was able to generate a high viscosity at low concentration. Both Health Canada and FDA questioned the reasons for the huge increase in viscosity resulting from mixing the polysaccharide components and suggested that new covalent bonds could have been formed.

The work demonstrated that no new covalent bonds had been formed (methylation analysis). It was further demonstrated by the use of SECMALS (size exclusion chromatography/Maldi mass spectroscopy) and the analytical ultracentrifuge that non-covalent bonding was responsible for the unusual rheological behaviour of the product.
The work was published in peer-reviewed papers and presented to both Health Canada and FDA who accepted the findings.

Functional ingredients

A group of nine consultants (the late Catherine Side, Dave Baines, Bernie Radford, Ian Smith, Alan Banyard, Wendy Jones, Chris Lawson, Ron Lawrence and Lindsey Bagley) together with two collaborators from Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL) (Melindee Hastie and Sarah Marshall) carried out a desk research study for a producer of performance nutrition beverages. Their report gathered information from the literature on 24 available ingredients identified as having potential for label claims as functional ingredients; eight of these were recommended as warranting more serious investigation. This clearly demonstrated how the skills and knowledge of many members can rapidly combine to produce a very thorough and extensive investigation.

Sustainable food production

A team of Acumentia consultants, including Dave Baines, Kaarin Goodburn, Mike Shaw, Ian Smith and Melanie Brown, undertook a desk research assignment for the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Chemical Engineers to assess sustainable food production and the implications for the chemical sciences. The report was published by the RSC as ‘The Vital Ingredient’.

The expertise provided by Acumentia covered the whole food supply chain, including primary production, food processing and manufacture, distribution and retail, consumer, and supply chain waste.

Food safety

An Acumentia team consisting of Kaarin Goodburn, Dave Baines, Melanie Brown and the late Catherine Side carried out a desk research study for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to identify and define innovative technologies in the area of food production, ingredients processing and packaging that may impact on EFSA’s work in the medium and long term. The Acumentia team was led by Kaarin Goodburn and worked in collaboration with the Institute for Food Studies and Agro-industrial Development (IFAU) in Denmark. The project required a broad understanding of food technologies across the entire food chain.

Flavour benchmarking

Acumentia undertook a benchmarking exercise for a major player in the flavours and seasonings market. The Acumentia team, Dave Baines, Lindsey Bagley and Melanie Brown, brought expert knowledge of the flavour and seasonings market as well as market research and product evaluation expertise. The project reviewed competition and patents in the field and conducted a technology audit and SWOT analysis against key competitors.

Incident management exercise for the UK Food Standards Agency

Acumentia members Kaarin Goodburn, Peter Reilly and David Baines, working with RAB Consultants, experts in resilience and flood consultancy, and Escott Hunt, one of the largest providers of exercise media in the UK, successfully completed a series of exercises to test the FSA’s new Incident Management Plan, including:

  • a tabletop exercise to embed the new Plan into the FSA, and
  • a two-day, multi-agency control-post to test the Plan against a UK-wide food incident involving multiple government stakeholders, industry, media and triggering COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A). The key role of the Acumentia team was to develop the scenario and all the technical injects.

Allergen contamination?

In 2018 a specialist ingredient supplier faced losing major contracts because trace levels of an unexpected allergen had been detected in their product.  Although it was not at a concentration that would pose a consumer risk in the manufactured food, its presence at any concentration contravened the trading policies of key retail customers.

Acumentia member John Points was able to combine audit experience, expertise in allergen controls and a knowledge of analytical testing to investigate the probable cause.  After conducting both a full supply chain audit and a critical review of the testing technology, he was able to provide an expert opinion that the most likely cause was a non-allergenic interfering substance, previously un-noted because the test kit had never been applied to this type of ingredient.  The company was able to use his opinion to gain a derogation from the retailer policies and to continue trading.

Risk-based analytical testing

Own-label retailers and their suppliers can spend a lot of money on analytical testing for chemical contaminants and authenticity checks.  Often this is driven by legacy policies that were introduced in response to a particular incident or food scare.

Acumentia member John Points worked with a retailer to review their testing policies, changing from prescriptive testing frequencies to a risk-based approach that complemented their other supply chain assurance procedures.  Testing was focused at the most appropriate point in the supply chain for each individual contaminant or risk, and John helped to train and roll-out the new approach to suppliers, a key aspect of the policy change.  The change in policy ensured that analytical testing added much more value to the supply chain assurance system, whilst being overall cost-neutral.


An Acumentia team led by Kaarin Goodburn carried out a review of disinfectants for the Food Standards Agency. The team provided expertise on food safety management using disinfectants.

Food colours

Acumentia members Dave Baines, Lindsey Bagley, Hazel MacTavish and the late Catherine Side worked together on a project for Overseal Natural Ingredients to search for and evaluate potential new sources for non-declarable food colours. The Acumentia team brought knowledge of regulatory issues, natural products and formulation of food products.