AOAC Evolving, Passion of Members Unchanged: 125th Annual Meeting Highlights
The message throughout this year’s Annual Meeting was clear. AOAC is evolving, which has allowed the Association to expand in the past 10 years, but one thing remains the same: the passion of members for methods. More than 850 members, volunteers, and stakeholders from around the world attended the 125th AOAC Annual Meeting and Exposition, September 18-21, 2011, in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, to do just that: talk about methods.
"When we are able to talk about methods, we are contributing to solving problems," said AOAC Executive Director
James Bradford. "That’s what our members are passionate about. I’ve been in this business for almost 28 years, and I’ve never seen the passion and energy that repeats itself at every AOAC meeting. We made a little magic with this one, I think."
Major outcomes of the 125th AOAC Annual Meeting included the adoption of four
Official MethodsSM for infant formula and adult/pediatric nutritional formulas (inositol, chromium, and two for nucleotides) and three
Official MethodsSM for veterinary drug residues (monensin/narasin and two for ractopamine) using the new alternative pathway to First Action status; launch of three new nutrients for infant formula and adult/pediatric nutritional formulas (carnitine, iodine, and panthothenate), with approval of fitness-for-purpose statements; approval of fitness-for-purpose and standard method performance requirements (SMPRs) for antioxidants in foods; approval of fitness-for-purpose for flavanoids in foods; consensus on priority areas to harmonize chemical and microbiological guidelines for alternative methods; approval of the
AOAC INTERNATIONAL Methods Committee Guidelines for Validation of Microbiological Methods for Food and Environmental Surfaces (“Microbiology Guidelines”) by the Methods Committee on Microbiology; and expert review panel (ERP) approval of single-laboratory validation guidelines for the Stakeholder Panel on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals. In addition,
Stan Bacler of Health Canada assumed the role of president of the Association on September 21, 2011.
Russ Flowers, Mérieux NutriSciences Corp. and then-president of AOAC, kicked off the week by welcoming attendees to New Orleans and thanking members for their support. "We must keep in mind that our members are the experts we need, and they care deeply about the mission of AOAC," said Flowers, who with Bradford reflected on a monumental year, highlighted by empowering industry, investing in the future of AOAC, and a forward-thinking approach to
Official MethodsSM (for more information on the alternative pathway to First Action status,
CLICK HERE). "Teamwork and an open mind brought about the tremendous progress AOAC has made over the past year," agreed Flowers and Bradford.
"AOAC has been evolving in the last 10 years, particularly this past year, and we recognize it is a departure from the traditional way of doing things," continued Bradford. "This Annual Meeting takes place as we enter a new, exciting phase of standards development. Now more than ever, there are many volunteer opportunities for our members to engage. With the passion of our members and power I see in stakeholder panels, ERPs, and more, I am confident we can continue our success for a long time with this new structure in place. Have an open mind, engage, and participate."
New this year, AOAC held a community and volunteer leadership training, where attendees received an understanding of where AOAC is today and the many opportunities that exist for volunteers with the goal of "reaching a baseline of understanding for AOAC’s new processes from a community standpoint," said
Deborah McKenzie, AOAC senior director, methods development and approval processes, who with
Dawn Frazier, AOAC executive for scientific business development, chaired the new training session.
As this year’s keynote speaker, Robert Brackett, vice president and director, Institute for Food Safety and Health, Illinois Institute of Technology, provided on September 19, 2011, a unique look at food safety from the perspective of an academician, government regulator, and industry advocate. Never before has addressing food safety needed the combined expertise, innovation, and assets of all involved in the food production, processing, and distribution system. Academia, industry, and government each have a role to play that, combined, result in synergies that make solving food safety issues far more successful. However, before these organizations can work together successfully, it is essential that they truly understand each other’s perspectives, limitations, and strengths. Such understanding can be accomplished by engaging with each other in professional and scientific meetings, participating in advisory committees, and forming public-private partnerships that are designed to take limitations into account, while extracting those benefits that such partnerships offer.
"An individual with the perspective from only one sector cannot successfully address the issue of food safety," advised Brackett. "You must rely on each other. Food safety is a shared responsibility."
In his Wiley Award Address, "Partners in Research Exceed the Sum of the Parts: PARTNERS > PARTS,"
Steven Lehotay, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, described the partnerships in his career that have led to several achievements in chemical residue analysis of foods, including the quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe (QuEChERS) sample preparation approach. "The formation of partnerships is highly pertinent to AOAC INTERNATIONAL as a volunteer organization which relies on participation and collaborations among scientists," Lehotay said. "Just as partners must each do their parts to make partnerships work most effectively, the people within an organization as a whole must feel comfortable with its direction and satisfied with their role as an individual to step forward for the organization itself to be more than the sum of its parts."
Dedicated to the memory of Barry Titlow, a member of the AOAC Board of Directors who passed away in March 2011, this year’s meeting featured more than 275 poster presentations; 70 booths; 62 exhibiting companies; 26 scientific sessions; 15 exhibitor/partner presentations; three preconference stakeholder meetings, and three ERPs, as well as committee, task force, community, and Section meetings.
"AOAC established mutual trust and respect, and forged bonds of commonality among government, industry, and academia for the fiduciary of our constituents," said
Brad Barrett of AB Sciex, an AOAC Organizational Affiliate (OA). "A diverse group of members and stakeholders, from all different sectors, from all corners of the globe, came together and showed their passion for AOAC. Forums were convened where all whom had a stake were afforded a voice and could share perspectives for the entire community to examine. Passionate professionals deliberated on the virtues, sieved the data, and worked toward consensus for the common good. Like many OAs, our organization finds great value in associating with AOAC."
By all accounts, the Annual Meeting--the one time during the year when a member has direct access to several hundred peers who share similar analytical challenges--was impressive, featuring innovations in science and presentations from preeminent leaders in the global sciences community. But perhaps most importantly, the Annual Meeting captures the true value of AOAC--the passion, dedication, and involvement of its members who are excited to be part of the work of the Association. To all of the attendees, organizers, exhibitors, partners, and sponsors of the meeting, thank you for making the 2011 Annual Meeting a success. AOAC looks forward to seeing you in Las Vegas in 2012.
Full coverage of the 125th AOAC Annual Meeting is scheduled for the November/December 2011 issue of Inside
For information on the 126th AOAC Annual Meeting and Exposition, September 30-October 3, 2012, Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, contact Lauren Chelf, director, Meetings and Exposition, at
For more information on the alternative pathway to Official First Action, including processes, requirements, and ERP policies and procedures,