Vigorous approaches to chemicals’ safety and sustainability will drive differentiation, says consultancy

A new tide of regulation coupled with public expectation for safe and sustainable chemicals and products will create both substantial opportunities and new risks for the food and beverage industry, according to an expert at TSG Consulting.

Sue Bullock joined the consultancy earlier this year to lead the chemical compliance, stewardship and sustainability team. She notes the focus on ‘safer’ products has been sharpening since the EU introduced ground-breaking chemicals regulations in 2006. As the pace of change is set to quicken, brands that prepare well are best placed to prosper.

Companies already rely on growing teams of experts to make sure their products can be used safely and in accordance with legislation, whether they manufacture and sell feedstocks, pesticides or consumer goods. However, Bullock believes a different mindset and smarter toolbox are needed to successfully address the ambitious requirements for product safety and sustainability expected under the EU Green Deal and similar initiatives around the world.

“When people think about sustainability, carbon reduction is often the first thing that comes to mind, but product composition is at the crux of this issue,” explains Bullock. “Choices about the chemicals and materials used in products determine their impact on health and the environment, their performance and, ultimately, their marketability. Options need to be thoroughly assessed, and decisions – including uncertainties and tensions – must be explained effectively and credibly.”

In her new role, Bullock also helps drive Science Group Sustainability, a platform which combines TSG’s expertise with that of sister companies Sagentia Innovation and Leatherhead Food Research. It was established by parent company Science Group to blend product innovation and regulatory compliance services to help industry tackle complex sustainability matters.

Bullock says businesses benefit from a strategic, pragmatic approach to prioritise concerns relating to chemical use then make informed decisions to realise greatest net benefit to the planet and business resilience.

“Most businesses have sustainability commitments in place, and now they need to set about achieving them. This is where things start to get difficult. When you lift the hood on any individual chemical or product, you’re often faced with a highly complex set of issues. Expertise is needed to evaluate options, which could mean moving to a safer alternative, or preparing evidence to demonstrate the relative impact on human health and the environment of one chemical over others.”

Increasingly, this involves work deep within companies and their value chains, helping to effectively communicate progress to stakeholders, from investors to customers. It’s about futureproofing ‘safe and sustainable’ products and ensuring they have a robust evidence base to support sustainability claims and reporting.

“Understanding, then acting on, sustainability issues related to chemical ingredients requires deep technical expertise,” Bullock continues. “Everything is interconnected, and much of the time there are trade-offs and compromises to be made. This in turn can reveal opportunities for meaningful improvement and sustainability-led innovation.

“When you combine scientific insight, regulatory understanding and innovation best practice it’s possible to make significant gains. TSG has the technical and regulatory expertise to help companies manage day-to-day commitments and deliver safer, more sustainable products. Combining this with the innovation and sector expertise of Sagentia Innovation and Leatherhead Food Research via Science Group Sustainability is unique and truly exciting.”

TSG works with manufacturers and distributors across sectors including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, food and beverage, plant protection, hygiene and cosmetics. For more information, visit

For more information on Science Group Sustainability, visit

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