AOAC’s 2021 Midyear Meeting had its traditional start on Monday, March 15, 2021 with a meeting of the Board of Directors. On the agenda were announcements, “State of the Association” status reports from AOAC staff, and a laying-out of goals and priorities for the coming year.
The meeting, which was open to the public, had an exciting start with the announcement, following Board approval, by Past President Henry Chin that Jonathan DeVries, Ph.D. has been selected to receive the William Horwitz Award, the highest volunteer award bestowed by AOAC. He is just the third person to be honored in the history of the award. The award ceremony will take place during the 2021 AOAC Annual Meeting in Boston.
A major highlight from the Board of Directors meeting was the launch of two new AOAC Awards. The AOAC INTERNATIONAL/SCIEX “Rising Star” Student Award was approved, as was a new award recognizing the “Section of the Year.” The Editorial Board also approved the creation of a new Editor-in-Chief position at the Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL.
The Finance Committee reported that AOAC’s financial position is strong, and recommendations for funding the 2021 employee retirement contribution were approved.
In a review of the 2021 Business Plan, Executive Director David Schmidt confirmed that AOAC plans to launch at least five new programs or projects. AOAC is off to a great start as the new Gluten &Food Allergens Program was officially launched at the 2021 Midyear Meeting. A goal was also set to launch new programs within the Analytical International Methods & Standards Program (AIMS) and the Stakeholder Program for Agent Dectection Assays (SPADA,) during the next quarter.
In addition, projects such as the veterinary drug residues in Indian Milk and Milk Products Project and the Glyphosates Project will continue in 2021. AOAC will also be sustaining and augmenting funding levels for current programs including the Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP), Food Authenticity Methods (FAM), the Stakeholder Program for Agent Dectection Assays (SPADA,) and the Stakeholder Program for Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals (SPIFAN), which Schmidt characterized as “a real juggernaut” in infant formula analytical science.
The Executive Director also highlighted the importance of the contribution of Advisory Panels, the companies whose support makes these and other AOAC programs possible.
Also in the works is an expansion of the Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program (LPTP), which will now include a new Listeria environmental surface testing program and a new nationwide hemp proficiency testing program. A pilot study is being planned for the Listeria program, and technical requirements for the hemp program are being finalized by CASP’s Proficiency Testing Working group. The LPTP program is working on integrating Brazilian and Mexican laboratories and have begun including labs in Mexico and Brazil. More locations are in the works. LPTP is also conducting a feasibility study for a new Quality Training program, with a potential launch by year end. An evaluation is underway on the potential to support newer laboratories, possibly cannabis labs. Finally, LPTP is launching a new Salmonella/Chocolate PT program to launch in September 2021. Homogeneity and stability studies are underway.
The Research Institute is developing a new “Reviewed and Recognized” (R2) program, to begin activity later this year, that will review and certify method application notes.
AOAC has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) and is working with the AOAC Sub-Saharan Africa Section to identify areas to begin collaborations.
On membership, the Executive Director reported that despite the pandemic, individual membership only decreased very slightly at .004 percent, and Organizational Membership revenue is up 1.85 percent.
The Board also reviewed plans for partnerships, including revitalizing the Latin American Section and formation of an AOAC Southeast Asia Section.
Internally, AOAC is updating its database systems, improving Customer Service, expanding training, and implementing advanced electronic security of all business systems. Management is also keeping on top of the pandemic status for a return to the workplace.
The AOAC Committee on Safety and Security is being revitalized, and a variety of changes are being implemented to facilitate activities of the Editorial Board, the Governance Committee, and others.
AOAC President Erin Crowley applauded the “momentum we have gained in this first quarter.”
AOAC Chief Science Officer Palmer Orlandi updated the Board on AOAC’s programs including SPIFAN, Food Authenticity, CASP, Rosins, Color Additives, and Gluten and Food Allergens. AOAC’s core programs have developed SMPRs, Calls for Methods, and many training webinars that attracted an average attendance in the mid-200s. The Gluten and Food Allergens program was officially launched at this Midyear Meeting. The Research Institute’s Emergency Response Validation Program, launched with the Sars-CoV-2 surface test kit validations, is now a fully implemented AOAC program.
The Chief Science Officer also described the evolution of the Midyear Meeting from largely a working venue to including an advanced horizon scanning and program development process through the Analytical Solutions Forum. He reviewed the many new initiatives in the works as well.
Finally, the Senior Director of Membership and Communications, Dawn Frazier, joined Executive Director Dave Schmidt for a discussion of the outlook for AOAC’s meetings. Frazier reported that registration for this Midyear Meeting, at 313 attendees, significantly exceeded the 2019 record of 269 registrations. The Annual Meeting & Exposition in Boston is planned as in-person, but AOAC is gathering input from stakeholders on the best format. Decisions will be confirmed at the June Board of Directors meeting.