September 9, 2021

Attendees of the hybrid 2021 AOAC Annual Meeting received daily show briefs containing photos and highlights from the previous day, along with the day’s schedule, updates and reminders, and more. If you missed the annual meeting or attended and missed any of the daily emails, the highlights for each day are included below.

Please note that each day only includes highlights of a few of the sessions and events that took place, rather than a comprehensive overview. Click here to view the full schedule from the meeting.

Jump to a Day:

Friday, August 27, 2021

Analytical Solutions Forum, Day 1

We kicked off the 2021 Annual Meeting with day one of the Analytical Solutions Forum (ASF). Packed with thought-provoking discussion and “thinking outside the box”, it featured presentations from Michael Sussman of the USDA/AMS and Sandrine Espeillac of ISO TC34 on international capacity building for food safety, plus Liang Cheng-Zhu of China and Andrew Pearson of New Zealand highlighting emerging food safety concerns in these regions and programs being developed to meet these new challenges.

The second half of the day included updates on AOAC’s Research Institute, Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program, and Official Methods Program from AOAC staff. Finally, the ASF Steering Committee joined both in person and virtually for an open discussion on the future of the ASF, AOAC, and food safety and analytical science in general.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Analytical Solutions Forum, Day 2

Focused on emerging issues – timely topics of high importance and that have great potential to impact global public health, food safety and trade. Presentations included:

  • Biotechnology (Sheng Lin-Gibson, NIST, US TAG Lead, Hiroki Nakae, JMAC): Focused on efforts to build next-gen biometrology and engineering biology capabilities to support U.S. biotechnology, plus the need for standardization of database validation and validation of databases used for nucleotide sequencing.
  • Safety and Security (Erin Crowley, Q Laboratories, Inc. and Wendy McMahon, Mérieux NutriSciences): Focused on AOAC efforts to create a culture of safety and security, including a dedicated committee
  • Remote Sensing and Handheld Detectors (Joe Heinzelmann, Neogen and Gabriela Lopez Velasco, 3M): Focused on “the Internet of things” and using data to improve food safety and optimize processes.

Stakeholder Program on Agent Detection Assays (SPADA) Meeting

Gave a history of the program, overview of three new working groups, an overview of standards development, and discussions on overcoming the challenges associated with validation, reference sequences, databases and materials, and statistical confidence. The working groups are:

  • WG1 – Detection Capabilities with NGS (Chair: Dr. Tim Minogue, USAMRIID)
  • WG2 – Standards for NGS Biothreat Agent Detectors
    • Subgroup on Amplicon Sequencing Applications (Chair: Dr. Shanmuga Sozhamannan, DOD JPEO)
    • Subgroup on Metagenomic Applications (Chair: TBD)
  • WG3 – Reference Database and In Silico Processes Validation (Chair: Dr. Michael Sussman, USDA AMS)

Stakeholder Program on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritional (SPIFAN) Meeting

Two draft SMPRs were considered:

  • Draft SMPR for A1 and A2 beta casein in Infant Formulas and Adult Nutritionals: Will move to a public comment period
  • Draft SMPR for Determination of Phospholipids in Infant and Adult/Pediatric Nutritional Formula: Approved with modifications
    • Additional reference materials resource and LOQ to be discussed during the motion
    • Scope is infant formula, but request to extend to dietary supplements in the future
    • SMPR captures 99% of total phospholipids forms

In addition, co-chairs Francesca Guiffrida and Martin van Gool launched the sn-2 Fatty Acids Working Group, Liang Cheng-Zu provided a regional perspective on food safety challenges in China, Darryl Sullivan provided updates on CODEX and upcoming reviews of amino acids, tryptophan, and Vitamin B12 methods, and Dustin Starkey provided a progress report on the AOAC ERP on Sweetness, which plans to establish a working group and develop an opinion paper. Marcel de Vreeze and Aurélie Dubois gave updates on the AOAC-IDF-ISO Collaboration, Martine van Gool gave a review of Single-Laboratory Validation (SLV) Guidelines, Melissa Phillips gave an update on the NIST reference materials, and Arlene Fox gave an update on the AOAC LPTP. Finally, Darryl Sullivan updated the group on methods and ERPs within the program.

Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP) Meeting

Gave a history and overview of the program, SMPR orientation, overview of the AOAC Research Institute programs (PTM, OMA, ERV, and TME programs), and reports from the program working groups:

  • Chemical Contaminants Working Group (now Product Centric Working Group): Has published one SMPR (Mycotoxin Screening Technique in Cannabis Plant Material and Cannabis Derivatives) and has one SMPR ready for publication (Quantitative Analysis of Mycotoxins in Cannabis Biomass and Cannabis Derived Products)
  • Cannabinoids Working Group: One SMPR out for public comment (Quantitation of Cannabinoids in Beverages)
  • Proficiency Testing Working Group: Microbial, pesticides, and heavy metals subgroups have met in the past year, with future subgroups planned for water activity, mycotoxins, and terpenes
  • Microbial Contaminants Working Group: Seven Methods Granted Performance Tested Method (PTM) Status
  • Training and Education Working Group: Overview of seven training courses in 2021 and upcoming courses on vape testing, the cannabis vertical, validation of cannabis testing methods, and testing infused cannabis beverages

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Analytical International Methods and Standards (AIMS) Program Meeting

Opened with an introduction to AOAC’s newest program. Tom Hammock of the US FDA gave a presentation on non-culturable organisms, followed by Jennifer McEntire of United Fresh providing an industry perspective of the analytical challenges presented by non-culturable food-borne pathogens associated with fresh produce. Next, Prasant Prusty of Pathogenia presented on laboratory methods for non-culturable organisms and Paul in’t Veld of Dutch Accreditation Council presented on efforts for developing standards for the validation of methods for microbial pathogens and the unique challenges of validating methods for non-culturable organisms from sampling through confirmation and enumeration.

The meeting concluded with a summary and discussion of anticipated bottlenecks faced as AIMS begins to work in this area, led by AOAC Technical Consultant Maria Nelson, including sampling, reference materials (reference sequences and reference methods), and validation difficulties.

Food Authenticity Methods (FAM) Meeting

Began with an introduction and overview of the program and its goals, followed by updates from the program working groups:

  • Targeted Testing (TT) Analysis (Joe Boison, EJ Consultancy)
  • Molecular Applications (Daniele Sohier, ThermoFisher): Developing draft SMPRs designed to evaluate Next Generation Sequencing methods (NGS) developed to assess potential economic adulteration in defined commodities, such as spices and botanicals
  • Non-Targeted Testing (NTT) Analysis (John Szpylka, FSNS): Calls for methods on honey, EVOO, and pasteurized whole liquid bovine milk; calls for comments on SMPRs for turmeric, saffron, and vanilla (no comments received yet)

Finally, a discussion was held on Emerging Issues Management, in which Tom Seipelt of Abbott Nutrition and Hugh Rand of the US FDA introduced the program that will respond to emergencies in the food sector, including an overview and risk assessment.

Gluten and Food Allergens Program (GFA) Meeting

Opened with an introduction and description of purpose and scope of work of the program, followed by an update on the development of validation guidelines for the program.

  • Gluten Working Group (Laura Allred, Gluten Free Certification Organization & Gluten Intolerance Group): working on validation guidelines documents, end-user guidance document, SMPR for General Antibody-Based Methods and SMPR for LC-MS Method.
  • Food Allergens Working Group (Melanie Downs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln): Working on guidance document for validation criteria, end-user guidance document, criteria for testing and reference materials, new generation allergens/novel ingredients, and positioning methods in relation with health significance of results.

Finally, Samuel Godefroy led a roundtable discussion on best practices for development of incurred/in-house samples.

Food Safety and Technology Meeting

As part of its continued horizon-scanning activities, the Analytical Solutions Forum (ASF) at the featured this session that explored how “blue sky thinking” can bring new and novel smart technologies into the food processing arena to address complex food safety challenges. This includes the incorporation of sensing devices to provide real-time quality assessments. Such advances can ultimately include pathogen sensing and identification in real time.

Board of Directors Meeting

  • Board approved the use of reserve funds for upgrade of financial software and reinstatement of 403(b) plan for AOAC staff
  • Executive Director provided update on progress on 2021 AOAC business plan
  • Finance committee reported strong investment performance and board approved 2020 audit report
  • Updates were provided on Codex, recently signed MOU with the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), and draft MOU in progress with Land O’Lakes Venture37
  • The Board approved the 2021 election results and slate of officers for the 2021-2022 Board
  • The Editorial Board is working to finalize a position description for hiring a new Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of AOAC International
  • The Official Methods Board selected its 2021 award winners to be presented tomorrow and approved its new slate of board members for 2021-2022

Monday, August 30, 2021

Opening Session with Awards Ceremony and Keynote Address

AOAC Executive Director David B. Schmidt and President Erin Crowley opened the session with a recap of AOAC accomplishments and initiatives from the past year. Then, Schmidt presented a variety of AOAC awards to scientists and students to honor their contributions to analytical science – view the full list of awardees here.

Finally, keynote speaker Dr. Temple Grandin presented her keynote address on how different kinds of minds – visual, mathematical, analytical, and more – contribute to innovation in science. She spoke about her background and how her highly visual mind has provided a unique perspective throughout her life and career. She also emphasized the importance of collaborating with people who think in different ways, to ensure problems are considered from varying angles. She emphasized the importance of observation in science and that educators need to nurture different ways of thinking to encourage innovation.

Wiley Award Address: Addressing New and Never-Ending Challenges in the Analysis of Chemical Residues and Contaminants

2021 Wiley Award winner Dr. Katerina Mastovska spoke about how her passion for food analysis began early in life due to the influence of her parents’ careers in the field. She emphasized the importance of hands-on experience, mentorship, and community, thanking many of those she has worked with in her research.

Mastovska addressed a few of the challenges she has faced in her career and ways she has addressed those challenges, such as:

  • Gas chromatography (GC) methodology and techniques: optimizing GC techniques to minimize matrix effects, column backflushing, and analyte protectants
  • Improvement of QuEChERS methodology and applications: QuEChERS with acetate buffer and expansion to other matrices and analytes
  • Her work on the 2021 AOAC Method of the Year, “Quantitation of Cannabinoids in Cannabis Dried Plant Materials, Concentrates, and Oils Using Liquid Chromatography–Diode Array Detection Technique with Optional Mass Spectrometric Detection”, which was challenging because it was difficult to work on cannabinoids in the US. The method authors collaborated with the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prauge
  • Non-targeted testing: increasing instrument sensitivity, computing power, AI capabilities, and more

Following Mastovska’s address, the Wiley Award Symposium, “High-End Food Analysis for a Healthy Life” featured four topics and speakers:

  • Residue Analysis – Steven Lehotay, US FDA
  • Hemp Analysis – Lukas Vaclavik, Eurofins Scientific
  • Food Proteomics – Jeffrey Shippar, Eurofins Scientific
  • Food Authenticity – Jana Hajslova, University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

AOAC Standards and Method Conformity Assessment Orientation

AOAC staff and technical consultants provided an overview of the standards and methods process, including:

  • How to get from Standard Method Performance Requirements® (SMPRs) to Official Methods of AnalysisSM
  • Calls for methods
  • How to submit methods into the AOAC process
  • Calls for experts
  • Expert Review Panel (ERP) composition and process
  • AOAC First Action to AOAC Final Action Official MethodsSM statuses

The session also dove into the Analytical Solutions Forum, the SMPR development process, AOAC’s consulting services, and more.

Approaches for Improving and Maintaining Laboratory Quality

Improvement and maintenance of lab quality is critical to assure the accuracy and reliability of analytical results. Concern for quality covers all aspects of methodology, from design and planning, sampling and sample preparation, analysis and data processing, selection and use of reference and internal standards, computation and evaluation of results, and finally, overall assessment of the process. This symposium covered aspects of bioinformatics for target assessment, accurate sampling and preparation, consideration of food safety methods, and evaluation of nonconformities and root cause analysis.

Plenary Session: AOAC Communities Speak on Current and Future Directions – Food Fraud, Allergens, and Microbiology

AOAC recently made a commitment to spotlight and strengthen its 17 volunteer communities, each of which provides a forum for stakeholders to cross-pollinate ideas and stay abreast of the latest developments in their areas of interest. This session featured three communities:

  • Food Authenticity/Fraud: Bert Pӧpping, FOCOS
  • Food Allergens: Samuel Godefroy, University Laval, Quebec
  • Microbiology: Patrick Bird, AOAC INTERNATIONAL

Out of the Lab, into the Wild Green Yonder

In a race to keep up with the light-speed growth of the budding cannabinoid industry, companies are working to increase their scale of production. With increased quantities and increased scrutiny, the need for more accessible analytical tools in quality control have become a high point of discussion. This session’s speakers are from several companies working to bring the power of the lab to the end user in novel, user-friendly and, most importantly, much more timely ways. The session covered in-house lab grade equipment, at-home genetic testing, mobile spectroscopic testing, and the pains that have been taken behind the scenes to ensure reliability in the field.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Methods for Determination of Cannabinoids, Contaminants, and Moisture in Cannabis and Cannabis Products

Cannabis is used both medically and recreationally and is generally provided as plant material, concentrates and edibles. There is a great need for regulatory requirements to establish a way to measure and establish baseline values that will meet both state and federal laws. This session focused on several of the most important analytical processes that directly influence the quality of testing marijuana and hemp. NIST provided updates in their efforts to screen potential candidate materials to be used as reference materials and shared the status of the NIST Cannabis Quality Assurance Program (CannaQAP) which was designed to improve the comparability of the analytical measurements in cannabis testing laboratories.

Food and Natural Product Quality Assurance by Means of Magnetic Resonance

As the global demand for quality including safety in food and natural products increases, so does the need for robust testing methods to determine quality, purity, and authenticity, in support of food safety and quality management systems. These factors underpin the inherent benefits of natural ingredients and pose a challenge for controls embedded in management systems. Magnetic resonance has been proven as a cost-effective, molecular diagnostic tool for food and natural ingredient identification and authentication, within many sectors including wine, coffee, honey, botanicals, cannabis, and dairy products. This suite of presentations on selected applications of magnetic resonance in food and natural products provided a broad overview of the technology, including fit-for-purpose examples of utility within industry and a deep dive into the science.

Identification and Quantification by Microbes

This session demonstrated how to improve results for microbial analysis, both qualitative and quantitative. First, the importance and problems of traditional species identification were discussed, and current DNA based species identification was introduced. Second, new and unique species identification using mass spectrometric technique (MALDI-MAS proteotyping) and its application was shown. Finally, a novel DNA standard with exact copy numbers to develop detection systems and analytical methods in low copy number applications was shown. The speakers detailed the use of standards for accurate analysis in mycology and microbiology.

AOAC Business Meeting

The business meeting provides an opportunity for AOAC programs and technical divisions to provide reports on their progress over the last year and goals for the year ahead. President Erin Crowley reported on three key themes:

  • Reputation and relationships: partnerships with Codex/CCMAS, CIFST, ARSO, and more
  • Sustainability: new initiatives, focus on international sections, increase membership, and improve access to member resources
  • Safety and security: revitalize the Committee on Safety, establish focus areas, and host a webinar (coming soon!)

Executive Director David Schmidt highlighted another three themes to summarize the organization’s progress over the last year:

  • Sustaining momentum: membership growth, despite the pandemic, new initiatives and award-winning programs, re-launch of SPADA, and balanced operating budget
  • Data & talent security: tackled data vulnerabilities, enhanced security of member and financial records, and strengthened staff team
  • Financial fine-tuning: outsourced finance director position and modernized software

Other reports featured the Official Methods Program, Editorial Board, Technical Programming Council, TDRM, TDLM, Analytical Solutions Forum, Research Institute, and Proficiency Testing Program.

The 2021 First-Time Poster Presenter Awards were presented to the following five awardees (their posters can be seen by clicking the poster titles):

  • Leos Uttl: Metabolic Fingerprinting-Based Multiclass Strategy for Varietal Authentication of Wine Using Advanced Data Mining and Chemometric Tools
  • Fenfen Tang: Analysis and Authentication of Avocado Oil Using High Resolution NMR Spectroscopy
  • Yoshiko Hirao: Sensitive Simultaneous Analysis of Lactose, Allolactose, Lactulose, and Saccharides Contained in Low Lactose Dairy Products Using HPLC with Post-Column Fluorescence Derivatization Method
  • Maryam Abdur-Rahman: Determination of 11 Cannabinoids Including Δ9-THC, THCA, CBD, and CBDA in Cannabis Plant Oil Sample by LC-UV and Portable IR Devices
  • Matthew Standland: Targeted and Non-Targeted Analysis of Cannabis Vape Cartridges Using Nominal and Accurate Mass LC-MS/MS

Finally, Erin Crowley recognized outgoing board members Clay Detlefsen and Henry Chin, and officially passed the president’s gavel to Tony Lupo, beginning his presidential term. Tony welcomed the incoming board members:

  • John Szpylka, President-Elect
  • Bert Pӧpping, Secretary
  • Mary Kay Krogull, Treasurer
  • Owen Fraser, Director
  • Peggy Monson, Director
  • Michael Clark, Director