APA News

  • Death of Braxton Reynolds

    Many older members of the profession and those in the wider public protection community will remember Braxton. He was a character and one of only two second generation Public Analysts. On leaving school he read Chemistry at University College in London and left with what he described as “a very undistinguished degree” having not been enthused by the lecturers who “wanted the chemistry to be pure and not applied”.  Having gained experience at Messrs Moir and Palgrave, in London he passed his MChemA at the first attempt in 1973 and almost immediately took over from his father Dr Cedric Victor Reynolds BSc, PhD, FRIC as senior partner in Tickle and Reynolds and was appointed Public and Agricultural Analyst for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. He delighted in classical methods and would employ them, where appropriate, in preference to more involved instrumental techniques. Why go through an extensive extraction and clean-up followed an instrumental finish on a sample to quantify a non-permitted sweetener which is almost certainly absent when a quick sensitive qualitative test will confirm this? “ No analysis should ever be an ego trip for an analyst, the analyst provides information, upon which substantive decisions safely may be based”.

    He was chair of the Association’s Scientific Affairs Committee for many years and represented the Association on British Standards Institution (BSI) meetings on issues of foods, food additives, food packaging, also toys and consumer durables, attending Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Health Organisation (FAO/WHO) meetings on international standards, including the Codex Committee for Methods of Analysis and Sampling (1992 to 2004), helping to speed up the importation and exportation of perishable foods. He also led on sweeteners in food, because of concerns about the additives widely used outside of Europe.  He made a major contribution to the Association’s submission to the Turner Review of the Public Analyst Provision in England and Wales (published in October 1998). When he appeared before the House of Commons Committee on Food Standards on the 15th March 1999 with Vice President Bob Stevens he offered “something of the order of 66 questions …. which it might very well be that this Committee would find of use” in its deliberations.

    The 1999 conference (APA’99) was on the theme of integrated public protection was held at a time when there were 31 Public Analyst laboratories in the UK,  the Food Standards Act 1999 (which established the Food Standards Agency) and the Local Government Act 1999 (which introduced Best Value which ostensibly replaced previous requirements for compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) to a wider range of authority services) were not yet on the statute book.  Presentations covered the role of Public Analysts in inspecting food businesses, the needs of enforcement officers, the Food Standards Agency, the need for a national sample database, continuing professional competence and unused evidential material. During his Presidency APA Council meetings were “guaranteed to be entertaining, though they hardly ever finished on time”.

    Reduced local authority spending on sampling and analysis, particularly of animal feeds, during the early years of the century together with the increasing demands of accreditation eventually resulted in Braxton relinquishing his appointments, though he continued to act as an expert witness, particularly in drink driving cases for a number of years. In later life he gained some local notoriety as the co-proprietor of a sex shop in Truro which provided him with many opportunities to present legal arguments in Truro Magistrates’ Court.

    To quote one retired Public Analyst “A singular individual in many ways, but with sufficient endearing traits to remain much respected.”

    E Braxton Reynolds, BSc (Hons) Chemistry, MChemA, CChem, MRSC, previously also MIFST, FRSH, FInstPet, President of the Association 1998-2000, was born December 20, 1940. He died from complications from mesothelioma on May 31, 2023, aged 82. His funeral will be held at 10.30am Heavitree Parish Church, Exeter, on Friday, June 30.

    With thanks to Tony Bonnici who provided some quotations for this item.