Deeside Water and its relationship with QMU

Andy Lewis made this Freedom of Information request to Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Re: Freedom of Information Request

I am writing regarding the recent publicity generated by a press release from you that "Deeside Mineral Water actually slows the signs of ageing and does so 50% more effectively than other tested waters on the market."

http://www.qmu.ac.uk/research_knowledge/...

I would like to understand the relationship between Deeside water and the University or any employee of QMU.

Please could you tell me the nature of any relationship between any member of staff at QMU involved in this research and the company Deeside Water or their staff? In particular, I would like copies of emails or documents pertaining to this research exchanged between QMU and Deeside Water.

Yours faithfully,

Andy Lewis

Freedom of Information Act, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Lewis,

Many thanks for your email that we received on Sunday 18th January.

In response to your request we are able to provide you with the
following information.

Deeside Mineral Water commissioned scientists at Queen Margaret
University, Edinburgh (QMU) to investigate if there was any scientific
basis for anecdotal claims of the water's historical curative
properties. The initial contact between Deeside Mineral Water and QMU
was made through Interface (http://www.interface-online.org.uk/), an
organisation funded by the Scottish Funding Council, the Innovative
Actions Programme and the Scottish Government's SEEKIT programme.
Interface offer a central point of access for industry to Scotland's
research base and regularly send out details of potential research
activity to Scottish universities. The initial email QMU received from
Interface is attached to this email for your information.

Dr Mary Warnock, lecturer in the subject area of Dietetics, Nutrition
and Biological Sciences at Queen Margaret University, led the study
which looked at antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties of
some of the leading commercially available mineral waters.

During the course of this research Dr Warnock and her team found that
Deeside Mineral Water was 50% more effective in scavenging free radicals
than the other waters tested. The results were a surprise to both the
University research team and Deeside Mineral Water.

You requested emails pertaining to this research to be released, however
this would constitute release of commercially sensitive information that
would prejudice substantially the commercial interests of Deeside
Mineral Water, any future work carried out between Deeside Mineral Water
and QMU, and other companies that were used in the testing. This
information therefore falls within section 33(1)(b) of the Freedom of
Information (Scotland) Act (Commercial interests and the economy). Here
it reads:

"Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act
would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial
interests of any person (including, without prejudice to that
generality, a Scottish public authority)".

Section 2 of the Act requires us to apply the public interest test when
considering section 33(1)(b). We believe that the public interest in
releasing commercially sensitive information contained in these emails
would be outweighed by the public interest in avoiding the substantial
prejudice which would result from disclosure. The information is
therefore exempt.

It is common practice for commercial organisations like Deeside Mineral
Water to commission universities to undertake scientific testing of
their products, particularly through such routes as Interface. Often
this occurs because the commercial organisation does not have its own
scientific facilities or appropriate experts. It is important to note
that all scientific testing conducted by Queen Margaret University for
commercial organisations is rigorous and impartial, and results are not
skewed to order to meet the expectations of the commissioning body. The
research was undertaken to normal clinical standards and was undertaken
completely independently from Deeside in order for them to get
impartial, independent results.

Dr Warnock is an academic employee of Queen Margaret University,
Edinburgh and has no prior professional or personal relationship with
Deeside Mineral Water outside this independent research. Deeside
Mineral Water has no links with QMU or any staff, other than this
research study. It is also worth noting that Deeside Mineral Water has
commissioned a number of independent studies at several universities,
laboratories and hospitals and has been through a similar research
process before several times.

I hope this helps, but should you have any questions on the above then
please let me know.

Best wishes

Jamie

Jamie Tait
Business and Research Support Adviser
Strategic Planning and Research Support Unit
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
Queen Margaret University Drive
Musselburgh
East Lothian
EH21 6UU

Tel: 0131 474 0000
Fax: 0131 474 0001

Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh is a registered charity: Scottish
Charity Number SC002750.

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the address below. The request should:

(a) detail your request for a review of our decision to be undertaken;
(b) describe the nature of your original request; and
(c) explain the reasons why you are dissatisfied with our response.

Mrs Ilona Mair
Head
Strategic Planning and Research Support Unit
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
Queen Margaret University Drive
Musselburgh
EH21 6UU
Email: [email address]

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review is available from the Scottish Information Commissioner's web
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at the following address:

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Francis Irving left an annotation ()

Blog post by the requester with background to the request and interpretation of it:

http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2009/02/...