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Symposium Title
Evaluating the Variance Among Cannabinoid CRMs Based on Testing Data
Navigating the Landscape of Botanical and Dietary Supplement Measurement Performance Assessment
Analytical Toolbox for Mushroom Quality Testing
Overcoming the Analytical Hurdle: Challenges and Advancements in Method Development for the Safety and Quality of Novel Foods
Unlocking the Potential of Green Sustainable Methods: Challenges and Opportunities on Food, Feed and Dietary Supplement Analysis
A Closer Look: Innovative Approaches to Detecting Contaminants and Adulterants in Botanical Supplements
Generative AI Solutions to Evaluate and Ensure Authenticity, Quality, and Safety of Food and Supplements
Opportunities to Fill Gaps in Standard Methods for Vitamins in Foods and Dietary Supplements
From Farm, Field or Forest to Fork: Metal(loid)s in Foods and their Sources
Contaminant Testing in Foods: Addressing Today’s Needs and Tomorrow’s Emerging Concerns
Mo’ Dietary Supplements, Mo’ Problems?: Overcoming Analytical Challenges with Modern Technologies
Metagenomic Applications for Food Safety Diagnostics
Data Driven Food Safety, Quality and Product Integrity Systems
Looking to the Future: Alternative Methods for Improved Foodborne Pathogen Confirmation
The Future of Biotics: Analytical Considerations for Pre- Pro- and Post-Biotics
Food Allergens: Beyond Method Validation
Sharing Your Analytical Hurdles in 5 Minutes
PFAS: What Do We Actually Find in Food and Food Contact Materials?
Improved and Innovative Methods for Analysis of Toxins and Associated Reference Materials

Evaluating the Variance Among Cannabinoid CRMs Based on Testing Data
Track – Hemp and Cannabis

Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) continue to be a growing area of importance and concern for the cannabis and hemp testing industry.  CRMs are an essential tool used by testing labs to develop and optimize testing methods. Once validated, CRMs are used to monitor the ongoing suitability of the method and equipment used to determine the concentration of cannabinoids in plant, extract and other derived products.  Reported concentrations are used for labeling products sold to consumers.  There is concern among industry stakeholders CRMs are being intentionally selected to bias THC reporting either artificially high for marijuana products, or low for hemp. Off-the-shelf studies have also been conducted showing a wide variability exists between what is reported on consumer product labels and what is contained in those products. In an attempt to address these issues, a collaborative study was conducted by the American Council of Independent Laboratories’ (ACIL) Cannabis & Hemp Section. Five testing labs and five CRM Producers volunteered their time, resources, and products to determine the variability of CRM calibration products available on the market today and if the variance among CRMs is sufficient to substantially bias reported values. Speakers in this session will present conclusions based on testing data from studies demonstrating the variance between label claims and what is contained in products sold in retail outlets and the variance between multiple laboratories’ testing results and multiple CRM products tested.

Chairs: Joseph Konschnik, Plus One Consulting LLC; Josh Swider, Infinite Chemical Analysis Laboratories

The variety and number of products, consumer usage, and biomedical research of dietary supplements and botanical-derived products continues to steadily increase. Testing and research labs in the dietary supplement and botanical space must utilize multiple analytical approaches to characterize the identity, content, and quality of a diverse array of ingredients and formulation matrices. Analytical challenges abound in this context, including questions of a method’s fitness across matrices or appropriateness in determining identity or detecting fraud. Several programs exist to help labs demonstrate their capabilities and improve measurement quality, however, it can be difficult to navigate the landscape of multiple performance testing (PT), quality assurance (QA), and accreditation programs that individually address some, but not all, of the pressing analytical challenges for dietary supplements. This session will provide overviews of the objectives and processes of leading PT, QA, and accreditation programs. A presentation from a major independent testing lab will facilitate interactive discussions that identify where participation in different complementary programs can help fill gaps in assessing dietary supplement method performance. Speakers will discuss possible approaches to address emerging topics in the field, e.g., how the different programs, and their respective control or reference materials, can be designed to better meet the needs for characterizing and identifying complex botanical ingredients and dietary supplements. This session will interest those involved in testing of authenticity and fraud and laboratory management and will especially benefit members who are engaged in the AOAC Proficiency Testing Program, the Botanical Ingredients and Dietary Supplements Integrity Program.

Chairs: Adam Kuszak, National Institutes of Health; Hugh Hayes, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Analytical Toolbox for Mushroom Quality Testing
Track – Botanicals and Dietary Supplements

The growth of the functional and medicinal mushroom markets continues unabated. This has been driven by numerous streams – general diet, nutritional supplements, medicalization progress, and also recreational use in the case of psychedelics. All of this is supported by the increasing acceptance of the industry to adhere to best scientific practices to ensure transparency and accuracy in product quality. A suite of analytical methodology is now available comprising both instrumental techniques such as analytical chromatography, NMR, MS, etc., and enzymatic assays (among others), to accurately quantify the key components present in mushrooms, mushroom extracts, and mushroom-derived products.
This session will aim to inform, discuss, and debate the current analytical toolbox that is available and seek to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of the various techniques employed. Currently, there are no AOAC methods in either the Official Methods of Analysis or Performance Tested Methods frameworks that are specifically targeted at the mushroom industry. This session will hopefully drive discussion that focuses on the most important analytical needs for industry that will then inform a roadmap for AOAC method approvals to be developed to meet those needs. 

Chair: David Mangan, Neogen Corporation

Overcoming the Analytical Hurdle: Challenges and Advancements in Method Development for the Safety and Quality of Novel Foods
Track – Hot Topic: Novel Foods and Ingredients

The rise of novel foods, incorporating alternative protein sources like plant-based, insect-derived, fermentation-based, and cell-cultured meat, presents exciting possibilities for the future of food. However, critical challenges exist in the lack of safety research and established analytical methods for these innovative products. When assessing the safety of protein derived from precision fermentation, for example, it is important to consider the potential risks of allergic reactions to byproduct proteins and the effects of antimicrobial natural products from fermenting microorganisms on gut microbiota. This session will provide an overview of safety research and method needs for novel foods, and delve into the current hurdles faced in the method development, focusing on key areas- bioactive ingredients, chromatography, mass spectrometry, and allergen testing. Presentations will focus on research on overcoming these challenges and developing robust, harmonized methods crucial for ensuring the quality safety, and consumer acceptance of novel foods. This session offers valuable insights for researchers, food scientists, and regulatory bodies working towards a future where robust analytical methods pave the way for the safe and successful integration of novel foods into the global food system.

Chairs: Jay Alappat, Merieux Nutrisciences; Gitte Barknowitz, SCIEX

Unlocking the Potential of Green Sustainable Methods: Challenges and Opportunities on Food, Feed and Dietary Supplement Analysis
Track – Food Nutrition

Ensuring food safety and quality control traditionally relies on analytical methods that often involve hazardous chemicals and generate significant waste. The ecological impact of chemical and analytical studies involving toxic reagents and solvents remains a concern. Hence, analytical-based greenness assessments are necessary to estimate emerging contaminants (ECs) with minimal environmental hazards (1). Currently, there is a huge demand for the development of analytical methods for chemical analysis. Sustainable methods have aroused the interest of researchers in the last years. Sustainable practices in analytical chemistry are essential in light of global environmental concerns. Green analytical chemistry (GAC) offers eco-friendly and sustainable analytical procedures with a focus on waste reduction, energy efficiency, and emissions reduction (2)
Sustainable and green analytical methods offer a promising alternative, minimizing environmental impact while maintaining analytical accuracy. The session will explore the latest advancements in green analytical techniques for food analysis. Presentations will cover various aspects, including novel extraction methods, and re-purposed analytical tools. The session will be of interest to analytical chemists, food scientists, and industry professionals seeking to implement sustainable practices in food quality control.
(1) Mor, N.M. et al. (2024) Trends in Anal. Chem. 172,  117598
(2) Kanaka, P.K. et al. (2023) J. Clean. Prod. 428, 139297

Chairs: Jay Alappat, Merieux Nutrisciences; Narendra Meruva, Waters Corporation

A Closer Look: Innovative Approaches to Detecting Contaminants and Adulterants in Botanical Supplements
Track – Botanicals and Dietary Supplements

Contaminants and adulterants can undermine the quality, potency, and efficacy of botanical products, rendering them unusable or potentially dangerous. Therefore, understanding the sources from which these concerns originate is essential. Contamination can result from unintentional cross-contamination, but could also be from intentional adulteration or substitution, often for cost-saving or activity-enhancing reasons. Analytical testing of these products is crucial to support consumer safety and meet the product claims made by manufacturers. While traditional analytical studies focus on metals, pesticides, and similar contaminants or adulterants, emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, detergents, and novel psychoactive substances have been recently identified. These new contaminants often require specialized analytical techniques for detection and quantification. This session will serve as a platform for discussing the current state of contaminant testing in botanical products and the experimental and analytical methods needed to detect and quantify non-traditional contaminants in botanical supplements.

Chairs: Karl Oetjen, SCIEX; Jonathan DeCenzi, NOW Health Group

Generative AI Solutions to Evaluate and Ensure Authenticity, Quality, and Safety of Food and Supplements
Track – Hot Topic: Omics

In the coming years, artificial intelligence (AI) integrated into food production and testing facilities will become standard practice, mirroring the widespread adoption of AI across various manufacturing and automation sectors. This transformative shift will significantly impact the current landscape of food authenticity testing, implementing safety assurance, and new standard practices. This proposed session aims to explore the innovative ways in which AI technologies can be utilized to address challenges related to food authentication, fraud detection, and safety monitoring in order to scale more effectively and overcome talent shortages. Furthermore, this session will also dial into how AI models can be made transparent, interpretable, and accountable to stakeholders, including regulatory bodies, consumers, and industry professionals. Understanding the inner workings of AI algorithms and the factors influencing their decisions is crucial for building trust and confidence in AI-driven food safety solutions. Additionally, discussions will revolve around the importance of controlling AI systems, enabling users to review and correct errors and gain visibility into how AI models arrived at certain decisions. This proactive approach to AI governance ensures that food safety and authenticity efforts are aligned with ethical, legal, and societal considerations. Overall, this session seeks to empower stakeholders with the knowledge and tools necessary to harness the full potential of AI, including machine learning, deep learning, and deep generative learning, while enabling researchers and industry professionals to enhance the accuracy, efficiency, and integrity of the food supply chain.

Chairs: Andi Krupke, Expert Intelligence; Arne Duebecke, Tentamus Group GmbH

Opportunities to Fill Gaps in Standard Methods for Vitamins in Foods and Dietary Supplements
Track – Food Nutrition

The food industry, regulators, nutrition researchers, and risk assessors benefit from fit-for-purpose analytical methods on vitamins in foods and dietary supplements. Many of the international available standard methods originate from the 1990’s. Science, technology, and statutory regulations changed considerably since. For example, the expression of vitamin activity specified in global regulations may need information on individual vitamin compounds or vitamers. AOAC-SPIFAN has done an enormous work in the past decade to update standard methods on vitamins for infant formula and adult nutritionals. This category of products is fortified with vitamins and therefore it is not straightforward that AOAC-SPIFAN methods can be applied for foods that may contain vitamins at lower levels and bound to other compounds, which need to be released. This symposium gives an opportunity to highlight method gaps and share cutting-edge technology/methods for future consideration as standard methods for vitamins in foods and dietary supplements.

Chair: Erik Konings, Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.

From Farm, Field or Forest to Fork: Metal(loid)s in Foods and their Sources
Track – Chemical Contaminants and Residues

Explore the intricate journey of metals in our food supply chain in this session titled “From Farm, Field, Forest to Fork- Metals in Foods and their Sources.” This session will aim to look at the source of metals in foods, the ways in which they are assimilated and transformed within the plant or animal species, and the impacts of processing and storage through to the interplay between these concentrations and consumer well-being and health. Here we will be focusing on elements that are known to either be toxic or essential macro- or micro-elements and discuss some of the cutting-edge technologies that are able to characterize and quantify these elements. Attendees can expect to walk away with knowledge of the considerations for a variety of different foods, and their current regulations and be able to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on food provenance, safety, and sustainability. 

Chairs: Kevin Kubachka, US Food and Drug Administration; Eve Kroukamp, Standard BioTools

Contaminant Testing in Foods: Addressing Today’s Needs and Tomorrow’s Emerging Concerns
Track – Chemical Contaminants and Residues

Food manufacturers continue to face challenges with aligning their ingredients and finished products with global regulatory standards, not just for commerce, but for safeguarding brand reputation and protecting consumers. Analytical laboratories that provide safety testing services encounter multifaceted challenges, including navigating extensive lists of target analytes and handling diverse sample types. The complexity of safety testing increases when new threats to human health emerge, like environmental contaminants being identified in food products, and known food contaminants showing up more frequently due to new manufacturing processes or climate change. To address these challenges, analytical laboratories must consider how methods can meet the testing requirements of today while being flexible enough to address the needs of tomorrow. This symposium will showcase how food testing laboratories address ingredient and finished products safety and compliance while keeping up with emerging contaminant trends.

Chair: Narendra Meruva, Waters Corporation

Mo’ Dietary Supplements, Mo’ Problems?: Overcoming Analytical Challenges with Modern Technologies
Track – Botanicals and Dietary Supplements

The dietary supplements industry is in a state of rapid evolution. Those familiar with dietary supplement testing often encounter common challenges related to new product types, new dosage forms, and low-level quantitation. While analytical testing resources are available, the pace of product innovation is much faster than the development of standardized methods. Some perceive the science of dietary supplements as having gaps, but an alternative perspective sees abundant opportunities for novel solutions. In this session, scientists will deliver short presentations on how they’ve harnessed modern technologies to overcome method development and product characterization challenges. Following these talks, an interactive problem-solving panel discussion will engage participants in exploring innovative solutions.

Chairs: Emily Britton, Waters Corporation; Mohamed Koroma, Pharmavite

Metagenomic Applications for Food Safety Diagnostics
Track – Bioinformatics, Chemometrics and Data Analytics

Metagenomics is defined as the direct sequencing of the extracted DNA of the microbial community from a sample without the requirement of culture-based enrichment. The data is used to define and study the microbial ecosystem, including population structure, complex microbial and metabolic interactions, and establishment or confirmation of biological functions. Metagenomics has been seen as the next evolution in next-generation sequencing and advancements in technological facets and costs have now made this a viable tool for integration and use in food security and safety, and outbreak interventions.  Scientists, including food scientists, research microbiologists, and biologists from government agencies and academic institutions, are all eager to learn more about current and proposed metagenomic applications in this sector.
This symposium will consist of a primary presentation on the advantages and challenges of metagenomics as well as implementation logistics for a metagenomics workflow, such as costs and equipment and bioinformatic needs.  Other presentations in the symposium will showcase use cases in botanicals and dietary supplements, namely probiotics, food authenticity and food fraud, and agricultural and environmental sample testing.

Chairs: Michael Sussman, US Department of Agriculture; Sandra Tallent, US Food and Drug Administration

Data Driven Food Safety, Quality and Product Integrity Systems
Track – Bioinformatics, Chemometrics and Data Analytics

Data management for food safety, quality, and product integrity through standards, validated test methods, and laboratory quality programs include acquiring, processing, analyzing, accessing, presenting, and publishing data for users and systems. Establishing ontologies, controlled vocabularies and structured sets of standard requirements for information concerning objects or phenomena that are directly or indirectly associated with food safety, quality, and product integrity to specify methods, tools, and services for data management while linking appropriate standards for information technology and data where possible, and providing a framework for the development of food and agricultural sector-specific applications can democratize digital food safety, quality, and product integrity data. Online databases, smartphones and handheld devices, social media, satellite data, the Internet of Things, and blockchain technologies all provide inputs into a ready-for-analysis-linked data landscape. However, terms, units, and formats are often different between the same or similar methods reducing data shareability both semantically and syntactically. Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability (FAIR) are becoming commonplace to address life science data but have not generally found their way into food safety, quality, and product Integrity. This symposium brings together examples of applications, processes, and procedures of FAIR data digitization in food safety, quality, and product integrity systems.

Chairs: Michael Sussman, US Department of Agriculture; Naomi Fukagawa, US Department of Agriculture

Looking to the Future: Alternative Methods for Improved Foodborne Pathogen Confirmation
Track – Microbiology and Molecular Biology Methods

Rapid detection methods are commonly used to screen product and environmental samples for bacterial pathogens. However, presumptive positive results that do not confirm by culture are a major cause of frustration for food producers and end users.  Factors potentially contributing to discordant results include the limitations of the cultural reference methods. It can be challenging to isolate the targeted pathogen when the strain is difficult-to-culture,  when high levels of background flora are present, or when related bacteria outcompete the targeted pathogen (e.g., L. innocua can outcompete L. monocytogenes). These limitations of cultural methods can lead to a confirmation bias (i.e., the pathogen is present, but is not isolated from the enrichment). Currently, despite their limitations, cultural methods are used almost exclusively to confirm a rapid presumptive result. However, the demand for faster result release while protecting food safety, and public health is growing; hence, there is a need for alternative confirmation solutions. Public health and clinical labs are increasingly using culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) to diagnose foodborne diseases, and the USDA is proposing to regulate specific Salmonella serotypes or subtypes that can be difficult to isolate. Additionally, there have been significant advances in molecular characterization techniques that do not require cultural isolation. These examples and others point toward a future where bacterial pathogen confirmation may not always require cultural isolation. This symposium will explore alternative, non-cultural pathogen confirmation and characterization methods and how they can be used to reliably deliver shorter times to confirmed results.

Chairs: David Legan, Eurofins; Catharine Carln, Merieux Nutrisciences

The Future of Biotics: Analytical Considerations for Pre- Pro- and Post-Biotics
Track – Hot Topic: Probiotics

Probiotics are “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” They have been known for over 100 years and have become very popular with consumers. As novel strains and applications continue to be developed, microbiological methods for strain characterization and quantification need to keep pace. One challenge with probiotics is keeping them alive at relevant concentrations. For this reason, formulators of food products are interested in prebiotics (a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit) and postbiotics (“preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host”). Neither prebiotics nor probiotics need to be kept alive, hence simplifying the formulator’s challenge. However, to ensure that consumers receive the value that they expect, both prebiotics and probiotics must be correctly characterized and quantified. This requires a stable of technologies and analytical approaches from plating methods that would be recognized by Julius Petri and Robert Koch to advanced technologies like mass spectroscopy and whole genome sequencing. This symposium will address state-of-the-art methods for pre- pro- and post-biotics and look into the future of “biotics” and their potential.

Chair: Andrzej Benkowski, Eurofins

Food Allergens: Beyond Method Validation
Track – Gluten and Food Allergens

The food allergen community recently came together to accomplish the daunting task of compiling guidelines for the validation of analytical methods for the detection and quantification of food allergens and gluten. This symposium will include topics on the many aspects of food allergens beyond method validation, such as how newly validated qualitative and quantitative methods will be adopted by the community and how methods are used for compliance and enforcement. Unique analytical challenges that remain, such as hydrolyzed gluten, will also be discussed. In addition to method considerations, another interesting discussion topic for inclusion in this session is the impact of new and emerging food allergens, such as sesame, insects, or putative allergens in GE foods. Over the last few years, an ad hoc joint FAO/WHO expert consultation of risk assessment of food allergens met five times and produced a number of interesting conclusions on the reprioritization of global food allergens, threshold levels in foods for global, regional, and national priority allergens, precautionary labeling, and exemptions of highly refined foods and ingredients derived from or containing a priority food allergen. This symposium will highlight how these conclusions impact each stakeholder in the food allergen community, from food manufacturers, ELISA kit developers, and regulatory agencies, as well as the food allergic consumer.

Chairs: Katherine Fiedler, US Food and Drug Administration; Rakhi Panda, US Food and Drug Administration

Sharing Your Analytical Hurdles in 5 Minutes
Track – Quality Assurance and Reference Materials

This interactive session invites attendees to share one of the top issues they encountered last year in five minutes and five slides. The audience can learn from diverse perspectives across industry and academia, from raw material suppliers to commodity producers. The session is designed to spark new ideas, foster collaboration, and gain practical insights to overcome obstacles in your analytical work. The session strives to be a dynamic exchange that benefits everyone – seasoned professionals and newcomers alike.
Last year’s AOAC first-time poster award-winning authors are encouraged to submit abstracts.
Session Format and Objectives:
Each participant will have the opportunity to present a specific analytical challenge within a 5-minute time frame. Participants are invited to present analytical challenges encountered in their specific fields, spanning industries such as nutrition chemistry, microbiology, food and beverages, forensics, and beyond.
By bringing together professionals from diverse fields, “5 x 5” aims to facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas. Discover how approaches successful in one industry can be applied to similar challenges in other sectors.
Collaborative discussions will follow each presentation, allowing attendees to collectively contribute ideas and solutions.
Session Benefits:
Exposure to diverse analytical challenges across industries.
Networking opportunities with professionals from various analytical chemistry domains.
Inspiration for innovative approaches and solutions.

Chairs: Xun Yan, Amway Corp; Yannis Vrasidas, Eurofins Netherlands

PFAS: What Do We Actually Find in Food and Food Contact Materials?
Track – Chemical Contaminants and Residues

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are everywhere, but their relative concentrations can change considerably, as can the breadth of the broader chemical family of PFAS present.  Supporting our growing knowledge of PFAS requires an understanding of what our quantitative methods tell us we routinely find in food-focused matrices, as this supports enforcement of regulations like the FDA rule to ban PFAS in grease-proofing additives.  But communicating that which we don’t see with routine quantitation is also critical, especially given the prevalence of ‘PFAS dark matter’ that is well documented in the environmental primary literature – if we find PFAS dark matter there, we are likely to find elsewhere in the PFAS lifecycle (i.e., in our food).  This session aims to connect the quantitative and qualitative knowledge of PFAS in food and food contact materials.

Chairs: Matthew Noestheden, SCIEX; Jay, Alappat, Merieux Nutrisciences

Improved and Innovative Methods for Analysis of Toxins and Associated Reference Materials
Track – Quality Assurance and Reference Materials

The accurate analysis of toxins in the environment and various commodities and the consistency of interlaboratory results has been an ongoing challenge. Analysis of natural toxins can be difficult due to the molecular complexity of the toxins, interference from matrix components, high assay sensitivity that is often required to detect the toxins, and metabolic products that can interfere with analysis. Accurate analysis also depends on the quality of calibration standards, the obtainability of analytical standards, and availability of reference materials in various commodities. Increased sensitivity of analytical instrumentation and innovative technologies are available that have improved the analysis of natural toxins.  This session presents improved and new methods for analysis and challenges generating reference materials for these natural toxins and other analytical methods.

Chairs: Ronald Sarver, Neogen; Julie Brunkhorst, Trilogy Laboratories