AOAC ANALYTICAL COMMUNITIES
AOAC was founded in 1884 because of a need by a community of agricultural chemists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt uniform, validated methods and techniques for regulatory purposes. This need spurred rapid expansion of government laboratory facilities and participation in AOAC.
Today, AOAC analytical communities are based on this original model of having the communities' needs drive AOAC methods development and validation processes. What defines a community? A community is basically a group of analytical scientists in a specific scientific area or discipline with a need for analytical methods -- more specifically and more importantly, the need to have confidence in analytical results and the need for methods that are fit-for-purpose. Examples of analytical communities are food safety and food security communities, food allergens, veterinary diagnostics, and dietary supplements. It can also be international groups or government agencies, such as the U.S. FDA, USDA, or EPA.
What AOAC does is bring its stakeholders together to identify communities that have methods needs, and places the communities in priority order. The priority communities, such as the Dietary Supplement Community, and the Food Safety and Food Security Communities then form a committee of experts from that community who gather together and identify method needs, gather a pool of available methods, and identify method gaps. The communities may also identify other quality tools such as training, for example. Work of the community is done through consensus building.
The methods gathered by the communities are collected into a pool of methods and posted on AOAC's website as a pool of methods that are "Not Yet Evaluated" (NYE).
Each community has "Expert Review Panels" (ERP) to review the pool of methods or in the case of a method need, which should be developed. Thus, the ERP identifies priority methods, that is, methods that are most relevant, valuable and needed.
From the general pool of available methods, priority candidate methods are then reviewed and categorized into one of five categories of methods based on degree of validation: Reference/Regulatory (RRM); Harmonized Collaboratively Validated (HCV); Multiple Laboratory Validated (MLV); Single Lab Validated (SLV); and Developmental Non-Validated (DNV). These categories will enable laboratories to determine whether the extent of validation for a method is fit-for-purpose.
Methods that are found to be of particular interest by the community
may be recommended for further validation in one of AOAC's methods
validation programs: AOAC Single Laboratory Validation Program,
AOAC® Performance TestedSM Program, Peer-Verified
MethodsSM Program or AOAC® Official
MethodsSM Program. A particularly relevant and needed
method may go to single lab validation and from there to full collaborative
study. Once the validation is completed, these methods will then
be categorized into the SLV, MLV and HCV, depending on degree of
Each community must have the financial backing of a champion or champions, be it a government agency or agencies, an organization, industry or all of the above to support the work of the community.
AOAC has already implemented this model with the dietary supplement community, and will shortly be implementing this model with the food safety and homeland security communities.