A Rush to Change Leads to Problems

Case Description: A food packer had been purchasing packaging components for some time. While they performed well in protecting the food products packed in them, they were dissatisfied with ordering lead times. The food packer requested a change in specification on an expedited time frame, and the food package manufacturer, and its supplier, complied with this request and moved quickly to supply commercial quantities of packaging using the alternate specifications. Following packaging of the food, the food packer discovered that the packages were failing in distribution and retail, and was forced to recall and destroy spoiled product. The customer sued the package manufacturer for actual losses as well as lost business.

Expert Analysis: Although brought into the investigation sometime after the incident, the expert reviewed available documentation of the failures and limited third party lab polymer analysis of failed packages, as well as replacement packages that performed satisfactorily. The expert recommended additional testing, which was performed by the third-party lab, and analyzed those results. Tests concluded there were deficiencies in the materials supplied to the package manufacturer compared to the standard commercially available replacement materials that performed satisfactorily. Based on this information, the package manufacturer filed a claim against their supplier alleging they supplied deficient materials. The supplier engaged their own expert who joined the package manufacturer’s expert in a fact-finding visit to the customer’s site, which included package performance tests and sharing of the third-party lab testing results

The supplier’s expert wrote a report claiming that the supplier’s material was not deficient and also claimed to have identified operating conditions that would have permitted the material to perform satisfactorily. The packaging manufacturer’s expert prepared a response delineating the shortcomings in the report of the supplier’s expert and the reasons the methodology was flawed and the conclusions were not justified.

Result: Case settled.

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