March 27, 2020

AOAC INTERNATIONAL’s 2020 Midyear Meeting saw the launch of a new scientific program, the Analytical International Methods and Standards (AIMS) Program, whose objective is to address emerging issues and opportunities in food microbiology among the international stakeholder community.

The AIMS Program was designed to ensure continuity of several working groups formed in the International Stakeholder Panel on Alternative Methods (ISPAM) that have focused on specific topics, such as microbiological and chemistry validation criteria, fresh produce, allergens, and statistics.

Potential topics for the program to focus on include:

  • Alternative method development criteria for emerging microbial contaminants (nonculturables)
  • Validation criteria for evaluation of alternative (proprietary) methods
  • Novel, recently recognized food, feed, and environmental matrices
  • Advanced molecular applications, bioinformatics, and biotechnology opportunities
  • Cutting-edge analytical technologies
  • Reference method review and harmonization
  • Training and educational outreach on all aspects related to the above

After a brief introduction to the program, experts from regulatory, industry, and contract laboratories highlighted several challenges facing the microbiology community. Thomas Hammack of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition presented an overview of CFSAN’s regulatory requirements for method validation, highlighting the need to ensure methods are fit for purpose. Sam Myoda of IEH Laboratories and Consulting Services identified five challenges industry faces with method validation and verification. Ynes Ortega of the University of Georgia and a leading expert on Cyclospora emphasized the urgency of developing accurate, harmonized methods for this parasite. Daniel Barket (Q Laboratories) and Sanjay Gummalla (American Frozen Food Institute) examined the challenges faced by industry and contract laboratories when performing testing for other nonculturable organisms, viruses, specifically Norovirus and Hepatitis A. Barket highlighted the challenges facing contract laboratories with viral testing. Wrapping up the meeting, Errol Strain of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine discussed the work of ISO34/TC9/WG25 on whole-genome sequencing methods.

With the launch of the AIMS Program, AOAC will be looking to the microbiology community to identify the most pressing needs for the program to focus its efforts.

For more information, contact Palmer Orlandi at [email protected] or Deborah McKenzie, AOAC senior director of Standards and Official Methods, at [email protected].