The History of AOAC INTERNATIONAL
As the "Association of Analytical Communities," AOAC INTERNATIONAL
is committed to be a proactive, worldwide provider and facilitator
in the development, use, and harmonization of validated analytical
methods and laboratory quality assurance programs and services. AOAC
also serves as the primary resource for timely knowledge exchange,
networking, and high-quality laboratory information for its members.
To meet these goals, AOAC has three methods validation programs,
the AOAC® Official MethodsSM Program® Peer-Verified
MethodsSM Program, and the AOAC® Performance Tested MethodsSM Program.
AOAC is focusing very closely on streamlining its methods review
process and providing new methods in areas of increasing international
interest, such as nutraceuticals and genetically modified organisms
International laboratory accreditation as a requirement for participation in the
global marketplace has given AOAC INTERNATIONAL an opportunity to
undertake a leadership role in developing criteria for laboratory accreditation.
Members of the AOAC Laboratory Accreditation Criteria Committee (ALACC)
have provided laboratory managers with the guidance they need to meet
ISO 17025 requirements. The AOAC® Laboratory Proficiency TestingSM
Program is also playing a key role by providing laboratories with
a means for proving the accuracy and reliability of their test results
to both their customers and accrediting bodies. Laboratories must
depend on the results from a proficiency-testing program to maintain
their business. The AOAC® Laboratory Proficiency TestingSM Program
has earned the confidence of its customers by being among the first
accredited proficiency testing programs.
AOAC also provides a number of key publications, hosts technical
meetings and conferences, and offers training courses in the areas
of laboratory management, quality assurance, accreditation, statistics,
and measurement uncertainty.
Because AOAC is an internationally recognized organization with
120 years of experience in validating and approving analytical methods
for foods and agriculture, and because public health agencies need
access to timely and reliable laboratory methods as part of an international
food safety system, in 2001, AOAC was awarded two government contracts,
one to validate methods, and the other to develop an on-line database
of methods (e-CAM) in support of an international food safety system.
One of the contracts awarded AOAC is a joint effort with the Food
and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health Office
of Dietary Supplements. AOAC has agreed to identify, optimize, and
evaluate a number of methods for ephedrine alkaloids and aristolochic
acid. This is an example of how AOAC partners with other organizations
in the effort to protect the public health.
A second and longer-term contract is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety
and Inspection Service. This is a cooperative agreement in support
of the National Food Safety System and involves the establishment
of an online database of analytical methods for the analysis of foods.
The database will permit federal, state, and international organizations
doing food safety work to have electronic access, on a subscription
basis, to the latest validated methods of analysis (new methods will
be in ISO 17025-compatible format). This database will let laboratories
develop reliable and reproducible data equivalent to that produced
by other laboratories using the same methods, thereby creating a network
in which analytical data can be shared. It is likely that other federal
agencies will join in support of this effort.
The History of AOAC
AOAC was founded in 1884 as the Association of Official Agricultural
Chemists, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA), to adopt uniform methods of analysis for fertilizers. In
1885, a Convention establishing AOAC as an independent organization
was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. ime, membership was
restricted to analytical chemists in state and federal government
positions onlya membership requirement remained for nearly
The early years of AOAC were strongly influenced by Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, a
founder of the Association who served as President and Secretary. In 1885,
Dr. Wiley oversaw the publication of the AOAC Methods of Analysis, a 49-page
bulletin of methods for analysis of fertilizers and precursor to the Official
Methods of Analysis of AOAC INTERNATIONAL (OMA). By 1887, the publication had
grown to include methods for feeds and dairy products, as well as fertilizers.
Dr. Wiley's interest and concern for the adulteration of foods and drugs,
led to the study and adoption of official methods for foods in 1889. His
research, and that of other AOAC volunteers, led directly to the passage
of the 1906 Federal Pure Food and Drug Act. By 1912, AOAC was publishing
the Official and Provisional Methods of Analysis of the AOAC.
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was established as a
separate agency from the USDA in 1927, sponsorship of the Association
passed to FDA, which was now responsible for regulatory activities and
because AOAC methods are so important to regulatory work.
The 1950's were an exciting era of rapid expansion for AOAC. New
food legislation was passed and the need for new methods and techniques
for regulatory purposes spurred rapid expansion of government laboratory
facilities and participation in AOAC. As in the 1890's, AOAC was
in the forefront of methods development and validationit was
during this period that AOAC established itself as a recognized
leader in the process of evaluating analytical methods.
In 1965, to recognize the expansion of AOAC's scope of interest beyond
agricultural topics, the Association's name was changed to the Association
of Official Analytical Chemists. The Association also began looking towards
independence from the FDA. With funding secured from federal, state, and
industry sources, AOAC became a truly independent organization in 1979.
The 1970's also brought about provisions for membership by scientists from
outside the United States. Another significant change was the increased
participation and acceptance of non-official (non-government) scientists.
Although they had always been allowed and encouraged to participate in
collaborative studies, and to hold methods development positions, it was
1987 before full voting membership was extended to industry scientists.
Today, over 60% of AOAC INTERNATIONAL members are working in industry
In 1980, the formation of geographically defined chapters, called Sections,
was approved. AOAC's first Sections were established in North America,
beginning with the Pacific Northwest Section in 1981. The Sections program
expanded internationally with the founding of the Europe Section in 1989.
By 1991, the Association had long ceased to be limited to regulatory
("Official") analytical chemists in the United States. During the 1980's and
1990's, the attention of the analytical community-particularly the segment
focused on foods-had changed dramatically from chemical to microbiological
food contaminants. Additionally, as a result of expansion of international
trade, there was increasing demand for quality control of laboratories and
international laboratory accreditation.
Consequently, in that year, the name of the Association was changed to
AOAC INTERNATIONAL. The new name retained the initials by which the
Association had been known for over 100 years, while eliminating reference
to a specific scientific discipline or profession, and reflecting the expanding
international membership and focus of AOAC as the "Association of Analytical
The History of Our Name
Our legal name since 1992 is AOAC INTERNATIONAL. In 1884 the organization was established as the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists, our heritage. Later on, the name changed to the Association of Official Analytical Chemists, a reflection of our membership. Subsequently, the membership changed to include microbiologists, food science personnel as well as chemists. We also became an organization of international influence and membership, so, it was decided to change to the current legal name...AOAC INTERNATIONAL. You will see a "tag line" used frequently...THE ASSOCIATION OF ANALYTICAL COMMUNITIES. This is merely a statement to encompass all the scientific disciplines involved in doing the work of the Association, not a legal name.