White background with lower quarter displaying fresh avocado, bowl of lentils, seeds and whole hazel


Debra K.W. Topham,
Director & Chief Scientist

Debra K.W. Topham, MS, CNS, CFS, specializes in reviewing food, beverage, meat, poultry, and dietary supplement labels for compliance to FDA, FTC, and USDA regulations.  This includes recommending to domestic and international clients any appropriate nutrient, health and product claims based on supported science and regulations.

knowledge bank’s director is a classically trained food and nutrition professional with the solid experience of a corporate research scientist and home economist. Debra is recognized as both a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) and Certified Food Scientist (CFS) for her advanced educational degrees and significant contributions to the fields of food and nutrition. She is a professional member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and Phi Upsilon Omicron Honor Society.

Debra helped launch the labeling and nutrition program of 2,000 products in three years for the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market grocery chain, the USA division of Tesco PLC.  She was also responsible for the adaptation and training of the Tesco Technical Library to monitor all generations of private-label formulas for due diligence and aided in product monitoring for retail store recalls and artwork generation.

Debra served as project manager for human clinical research studies, scientific symposia, and nutrition conferences, especially on botanicals, plant concentrates, and human nutrition. Debra participated in more than 20 human clinical trials at multiple sites in 5 countries of the world. The Botanical Education Workshops, the Photochemical Conference: Today’s Knowledge–Tomorrow’s Products, and the Nagano (Japan) Scientific Symposium on Sports Science are representative of the technical conferences Ms. Topham coordinated.  Among her many publications, she edited two internationally known books, Phytochemicals: A New Health Paradigm and Phytochemicals as Bioactive Agents by Technomic Publishing Inc. (now CRC Press).

Debra lectures at Chapman University (Orange, CA) covering food and nutrition topics along with regulatory-labeling for undergraduates and graduates in the Food Science & Nutrition Program. She is an invited lecturer at California Polytechnic University-Pomona, CSU-Northridge, CSU-LA, University of Southern California Regulatory Affairs Program (Los Angeles), and the Southern California Section of IFT.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a lawyer?

knowledge bank is a regulatory consultancy. We are not lawyers and do not provide legal advice. If you need a lawyer, we can make a recommendation. If you already have legal counsel as part of your business team, then we can funnel all communications through counsel to allow you to maintain client-attorney privilege.

Why knowledge bank, I already have a regulatory person/department?

Companies run very lean and from time-to-time, staff may have too many duties and too little time to stay up-to-date. knowledge bank supports and supplements your business practices as you may require. This may include mentoring your junior regulatory team or advising the product developers when innovating healthier nutrient targets for new niches. knowledge bank focuses solely on USA labeling regulations helping you navigate information needs on packaged foods and supplements.

Who are knowledge bank customers?

knowledge bank does not disclose its client list. We provide confidential services to Private Label Owners, Contract Manufacturers, Grocery Stores, Retail Brands, Importers and Law Firms. Our clients include startups to very large ($1B+) and multi-national organizations. Rest assured with over 3,500 product labels reviewed, our clients’ brands are well represented throughout the grocery store.

Will you take a partnership in our business instead of payment for services?

Although “bank” is in our name, we are not a lending institution. Our boutique business will accept check or PayPal for services. However, our 12-lb. security officer prefers kibbles in his dish each morning and night, so we cannot take sweat-equity in someone’s business.

Endorsement by food process engineer for accuracy and timeliness of services.

I have had the pleasure of working with Debra and Knowledge Bank numerous times over the years. Her knowledge of regulatory requirements has been a key asset for me in the development and optimization of my clients’ products. I know I can count on the accuracy of her information and the timeliness of her response. She is a true professional in every sense of the term.

-- Barry Weinstein. Food Process Engineer

Endorsement by fellow consultant for technical competency, professionalism and approachable person.

Besides being very well-versed in the technical aspects of her profession, Debra is an extremely approachable person. It isn't often that you find a person with both that level of technical competency with an engaging personality to match. I highly recommend Debra for any of your business needs. She is a true professional in every sense of the word.

 -- Kurt Schneider. Consultant & Former Vice President Research & Development

Endorsement by fellow consultant for regulatory knowledge in foods and supplements

Debra is very professional and detail oriented. She is an expert in her field and will help you take your business to the next level. She was hired by many of my vendors while I was at Trader Joe's for her labeling expertise and I had the privilege of working with her at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market. Her knowledge of government compliance as it relates to food and supplement labeling is extensive. She would be a strong asset to every company she assists.

-- Annette Davidson. Consultant & Former Vice President of Operations