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Emerging Issues at the 2021 Analytical Solutions Forum

The AOAC Analytical Solutions Forum (ASF) continues its mission to serve as an idea incubator and horizon-scanning tool in its 5th Edition during the 2021 Midyear Meeting (MYM21).  Due to the ongoing effects on the COVID-19 global pandemic, the ASF during the 2021 AOAC INTERNATIONAL Midyear Meeting will again be a completely virtual affair from Monday, March 15 through Friday, March 19, 2021. As in previous forums, the MYM21 will again highlight emerging food safety concerns from two distinct regions of the world (Southeast Asia and the Middle East), introduce a timely emerging challenge, provide an update on ongoing AOAC core program activities and offer an open discussion between attendees and members of the Analytical Solutions Forum Steering Committee.

AOAC and the Global One Health Concept

Unlike previous editions, the MYM21 ASF will feature an underlying theme concerning the Global One Health Concept, a collaborative, multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach that to ensure human health we must recognize the interconnects between humans, animals, plants, and the environment. Sessions sponsored by the ASF throughout the MYM are intended to illustrate how AOAC’s mission and our global renown for developing consensus analytical performance standards and official methods of analysis for foods and feeds are essential components in promoting public health, animal health and protecting the environment.

Plenary sessions throughout MYM21 will include an introduction to the Global One Health Concept by US and international officials followed by presentations that will highlight specific areas of urgent attention within the scope of One Health for which AOAC has, and will continue to play, a leading role.

Town Hall and Panel Discussion: Standards for Safety and Security

With safety being the number one priority in today’s testing and quality environment, AOAC is re-examining its Committee on Safety with an expansion to broaden the scope of safety considerations beyond just methods and to include security.  The purpose of this town hall and panel discussion is to provide awareness and to allow input into creating a culture of safety and security. 

ASF Emerging Issues Session: Responding to a Pandemic: Lessons Learned from COVID-19

This session will examine the AOAC community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Different perspectives will be discussed that will include those of AOAC leadership, validation scientists, expert reviewers, independent testing laboratories, method developers, and front-line users.  Implementation of the Emergency Response Validation (ERV) project, and in silico analysis for the first time for the purpose of validation will be discussed. The session will finish with a discussion of problems to be solved, lessons learned, and recommendations for future high impact validations.  Session participants will learn how AOAC will respond, and what roles they might be asked to take for the next pandemic or public health crises.

Mini symposium: FSMA Requirements for Accredited Laboratories

Critical decisions that impact public health are made on the basis of laboratory data.  The question becomes, “how can this data be trusted?”  The regulatory environment is changing for food testing laboratories. The FDA has a mandate to develop an accreditation program to meet the requirements of FSMA and ensure that food is safe. The new accreditation program will rely heavily on the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025: 2017, the recognized international standard for testing laboratories, but also includes requirements from the 2018 AOAC International Guidelines, as well as certain program-specific requirements.  

The laboratories will be accredited by Recognized Accreditation Bodies.  These accreditation bodies are signatories of the ILAC MRA, following ISO/IEC 17011:2017.  The FDA will maintain oversight of the program and can choose to conduct its own onsite assessment.  Establishing such a program will help the FDA ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply and protect U.S. consumers by helping ensure appropriate oversight of certain food testing that is of importance to public health. 

Heat-generated Compounds in Foods

This two-part session under the AOAC Analytical Solutions Forum will examine the analytical progress for heat generated compounds in foods since the initial announcement of high levels of acrylamide found in foods.  Heat generated compounds in foods, also referred to as heat generated food toxicants, are categories of chemical compounds that are a result of high heat processing of the food.  Common categories of these food toxicants are acrylamide, furans, and monochloropropane-1.2-diol esters and glycidyl esters (MCPDs and GEs).  As a consequence of their presence during processing and their adverse health potential, monitoring programs were established to evaluate exposure and risk and analytical tools to evaluate these compounds were developed.  However, no standards for maximum limits or tolerance levels were established at that time.

Almost twenty years after the announcement of high acrylamide levels in food, the methodology has improved, and lower quantitation limits achieved.  Nevertheless, there are still needs for consensus methods and consensus performance standards for methods quantifying these compounds across a broader scope of commodities.  With recent regulatory assessment of exposure and risk data, industry has supported AOAC in developing standard method performance requirements for MCPDs and GEs in infant formula and subsequently for furan and alkyl furans in select processed foods.  These consensus efforts have led to two Official Methods of Analysis for MCPDs and GEs in infant formula and candidate methods under consideration for furans and alkyl furans.  Presenters will outline the regulatory monitoring landscape, share the current state of testing and identify new needs and gaps in reliable methodology acrylamide and other heat generated food toxicants.

AOAC Shines the Spotlight on our Sections

Starting with the 2021 Midyear Meeting,AOAC INTERNATIONAL will begin highlighting the regional activities of our AOAC Sections during a special plenary session on Thursday, March 28, 2021 from 10am-12pm ET. This will include putting a spotlight on selected student research projects within that section.

AOAC Communities: Current and Future Activities

Starting with the 2021 Midyear Meeting, AOAC INTERNATIONAL will begin putting a spotlight on the activities of our AOAC Communities during a special plenary session on Friday, March 19, 2021 from 1:00-3:00pm ET.  During this session, Chairs from selected AOAC Communities will discuss their mission, the challenges they face and the current focus of their activities. Rest assure that our intention is to highlight all our communities in time.