This blog will be updated throughout the 2022 Midyear Meeting with highlights from each session. Follow along below!
Food Authenticity Methods (FAM) Program Meeting
FAM Working Group chairs provided updates, starting with the Non-Targeted Testing (NTT) WG led by Dr. John Szpylka, Chemistry R&D Manager at Food Safety Net Services. He outlined some of the challenges of NTT, such as defining authenticity and determining whether to use binary or “degree of difference” test results. The group created a NTT SMPR template used for a variety of matrices like saffron, turmeric, and vanilla.
Dr. Joe Boison, Director of EJ Consultancy, provided updates on the Targeted Testing (TT) WG and their efforts to develop SMPRs for detecting adulterants in honey, milk, and extra virgin olive oil. Dr. Daniele Sohier, Global Business Development Manager for Industrial Microbiology at ThermoFisher Scientific, shared the Molecular Application WG’s progress on developing an SMPR for the determination of biological spices and botanicals and relevant (common) biological adulterants. The WG voted to approve the SMPR and it will open for public vote next.
Next, FAM science advisor Dr. Bert Pöpping, Managing Director of FOCOS, presented a two-year retrospective and discussion of future goals, followed by two guest presenters sharing perspectives on new technologies that could impact the FAM program. Dr. Demian Willette, Assistant Professor at Loyola Marymount University, shared his work using eDNA barcoding, a molecular genetic method that allows for identification and tracing of seafood and could help reduce instances of seafood fraud. Finally, Nicola Colombo, CEO of C-LABS SA and Global Head of SGS DIGICOMPLY, shared insights into how AI could impact food authenticity and fraud.
Analytical Solutions Forum Symposium: Components of a Quality Management System
Brad Stawick, President & Technical Director of Stawick Laboratory Management, opened the session with an overview of the essential components of a lab Quality Management System (QMS), including validity of results, impartiality, corrective action, and high-level management review. He also covered common mistakes relating to vocabulary, lack of understanding, AB policies, and program requirements, plus possible deficiencies.
Gary Swanson, Senior Vice President of Global Quality at Herbalife Nutrition, followed with a few case study examples of botanical dietary supplements brought from concept to market using a QMS framework.
Analytical Solutions Forum Symposium: Impact of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Environment
Dr. Barry Hooberman, Risk Analyst at the U.S. FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, opened with an overview of approaches to safety assessments for PFAS in animal foods. He provided background on PFAS, exposure pathways in animal agriculture, and the steps required for assessing animal food safety.
Dr. Stefan van Leeuwen, Senior Scientist at the Wageningen University and Research, dove into the state of the PFAS landscape in Europe and the challenges in analytical tools and standard setting, such as PFAS’ diverse nature and variety of matrices.
Finally, Dr. Benjamin Place, Research Scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), closed the session with a continued discussion of the chemistry and analytical challenges related to PFAS. Namely, approximately 100 PFAS have analytical standards, but target measurements are limited. Dr. Place provided a few examples of current methods, such as particle induced gamma ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy and combustion ion chromatography (CIO).
Gluten & Food Allergens (GFA) Program Meeting
Gluten Working Group chair Dr. Laura Allred, Regulatory and Standards Manager for the Gluten Intolerance Group, provided updates on the WG’s development of validation guidelines as well as SMPRs for general antibody-based methods and LC-MS methods. Public review of the guidance document will open soon.
Next, Food Allergens Working Group chair Dr. Melanie Downs, Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, presented on the WG’s development of validation guidelines, criteria for testing and reference materials, guidelines for end users, and other priorities. The WG plans to finalize the quantitative SLV study design requirements as well as an annex on statistical methods before opening the validation guidance document for public comment. They also plan to work on an SMPR for almond and hazelnut in the future.
Next, two guest speakers presented end-user perspectives on the GFA guidance document – Dr. Anastasia Meimaridou, Analytical Excellence Manager for Quality & Food Safety at Danone and Dr. Jasmine Lacis-Lee, Food Safety Manager for Microbiology & Allergens at BVAQ. Challenges for end users included seeing the same method used in different labs produce different results, differing reporting units and target proteins, and difficult access to commercial kit method details. They are looking for a tiered approach to guidance based on the type of user, method selected, and application of results.
Acrylamide Working Group Meeting
Working group chairs Dr. Katerina Mastovska, Chief Scientific Officer at Eurofins, and Dr. Aurélien Desmarchelier, Analytical Specialist at Société des Produits Nestlé led a discussion on version 2 of the draft SMPR for acrylamide in a variety of products; much of the discussion focused on defining the matrices for the SMPR as well as the minimum requirement levels. The chairs also provided background on the project and emphasized the importance of chromatographic selectivity and selectivity of the sample preparation.
Updates from Selected AOAC Regional Sections: Arab and Thailand
Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Full Professor of Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Policies at the Université Laval, opened the session with an overview of the development of AOAC’s new Arab Section. Initial priorities for the section include supporting efforts to validate and accredit labs, testing for heavy metals, mycotoxins, radionuclides, POPs, food allergens, food authenticity, and halal food, creating centers of excellence/reference labs, and promoting food lab science to young scientists.
Dr. Pravate Tuitemwong, Associate Professor in Food Science at King Mongkut’s University Thonburi, next presented on the Thailand Section’s recent efforts. Their objectives are to develop test methods and kits with local and global applications, cooperate with national and international bodies in method development and validation, and engage with all parties, especially students and industry. Some examples include the section’s yearly student contest, proficiency testing training and competitions, and collaboration with organizations like the Food Science and Technology Association of Thailand (FoSTAT).
Analytical Solutions Forum Steering Committee: An Open Discussion
The day started with an open discussion led by the Analytical Solutions Forum (ASF) Steering Committee to help identify emerging topics that could shape the future of analytical science and AOAC. Topics included:
– Revitalizing the marine toxin community and how AOAC could help standardize methods; heard perspectives from Africa and Chile
– Plans for AOAC to increase its global impact through Codex; AOAC has submitted many of its SPIFAN methods to Codex and has other areas that could align, such as food additives, contaminants, and pesticides
– The growth of cannabis labs and how AOAC can support them with reporting, keeping up with different state requirements, and ensuring product integrity
– Needs around food additives and colors and the gap in regulations for natural color additives
Strategies for moving from ideas to execution
Analytical Solutions Forum Symposium: Food Safety Applications Using AI & Machine Learning
Dr. Steven Van Vooren, Marketing Director at UgenTec, began the session with a presentation on using AI in food safety, diagnostics, and agricultural biochemistry. He defined the differences and crossovers between AI, machine learning (ML), and deep learning, and provided examples of using AI to assist with image analysis in digital pathology, extracting data from electronic health records, genomic variant classification, PCR testing, and cross contamination checks.
Next, Dr. Abani Pradhan, Associate Professor and Director of the Graduate Program for Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland, presented on advanced data analytics and ML techniques in food safety risk assessment, providing the example of a study that compared the accuracy of different ML algorithms for identifying Salmonella enterica gene information. The study found that ML offers a viable alternative to basic statistical models working with large number of predictors offered by genetic data.
Finally, Dr. Abigail Horn, Assistant Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences at the University of Southern California, presented on using novel data streams (NDS) along with AI and ML for mitigating foodborne disease outbreaks. These NDS include text streams such as social media and customer reviews, transactional data, and logistical/trade data, and have the potential to influence food safety surveillance and tracking outbreaks.
Analytical International Methods & Standards (AIMS) Program Meeting
AIMS working group chairs Erin Crowley, Chief Scientific Officer at Q Laboratories and Morgan Wallace, Scientific Director for Applied Markets at Rheonix, launched the AIMS Program with an overview of its vision and objectives – alternative method development and validation criteria for emerging microbial contaminants, advanced molecular applications, collaboration with other standard-setting bodies, and more. The first project for AIMS is to develop standards and methods for Cyclospora cayetanensis, a protozoan parasite known to infect humans and animals. Invited speaker Anthony Kiefer, Assistant Scientist in Probiotics at International Flavors and Fragrances, Inc., provided one possible testing technique, viability ddPCR (v-ddPCR), which has been shown to enumerate several commercial probiotic strains with high correlation to plate counts. The meeting closed with an discussion on next steps for the program and working groups.
Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP) Meeting (sponsored by Cannabis Science and Technology)
The meeting kicked off with a review of the program and its processes, followed by an overview of how the cannabis regulatory landscape has changed in recent years from Susan Audino of Audio & Associates. Invited speaker Lori Dodson, Senior Advisor at the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission presented on the Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA), and CASP Working Groups provided updates on their progress. AOAC’s Shane Flynn also provided updates on the new AOAC Proficiency Testing Program for cannabis, set to begin later this year. Two documents opened for voting during the meeting – more information and ballot links will be included in Friday’s issue of the AOAC Spectrum.
Botanical and Dietary Supplement Integrity Program (BDSIP) Meeting
This meeting was a continuation of AOAC’s Thought Leader Discussion on Botanical and Dietary Supplement Product Integrity, held in December 2021 with the Global Retailer and Manufacturer Alliance (GRMA). The discussion continued today on possible areas of focus for AOAC’s new BDSIP program, including proficiency testing, quality assurance training and education, reference materials, and other areas. The meeting concluded with an overview of the draft SMPR for the Determination of Folate in Dietary Supplements, which after a public comment period was recommended to open for a vote.
Analytical Solutions Forum: Emerging Topics & Technologies Session
To kick off this session on new and emerging technologies in food safety, Dr. Michael DeVito, Director of Chemical Characterization and Exposure Division at the EPA, presented on new approach methods (NAMs), technology that provides information on chemical hazard and risk assessment to avoid or limit the use of animal testing. Dr. Karma Fussell, Senior Specialist for Chemical Food Safety at Nestle, presented on food testing using bioassays. This strategy detects bioactivity, such as endocrine activity, which has the potential to be misinterpreted and needs a holistic process for understanding. Dr. Damien Willette, Assistant Professor of Biology at Loyola Marymount University, presented on DNA barcoding, a molecular genetic method that allows for identification and tracing of seafood.
Next, Nicola Colombo, CEO of C-LABS SA and Global Head of SGS DIGICOMPLY, shared insights into how his company trains AI and machine learning using data from food safety incidents, customer reviews, scientific papers, social media, and other sources. This data is then translated and classified into actionable intelligence for users.
Finally, Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Full Professor of Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Policies at Université Laval, presented on the goals and pillars of achieving global food safety and security, which include availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability.
Stakeholder Program on Agent Detection Assays (SPADA) Meeting
The SPADA meeting featured a robust array of guest speakers. Speakers from the FDA, Johns Hopkins, ATCC, Oxford Nanapore, and others presented on a variety of topics, including:
– Creating a framework for processing next generation sequencing (NGS) data to address global problems in food and feed microbiology
– Developmental validation (used during the design process) vs. acceptance validation (used after the design process) for qualitative methods for biothreat agents
– Maintaining trust in a large, fast-growing data ecosystem
– The importance of a genomic-based data driven bio-surveillance approach
To close the session, SPADA working group chairs provided updates:
– Working Group 2 is working on a checklist for NGS reporting data and considering how AmpSeq can bridge the gap between PCR and MetaSeq for its purposes
– Working Group 3 is nearing completion of their developing an SMPR for nucleotide sequences used in biothreat agent detection, identification, and quantification
Stakeholder Program on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals (SPIFAN) Meeting
SPIFAN working group chairs reported on their progress and approved two draft SMPRs to open for voting:
– SMPR for A1-Type and A2-Type Beta Casein in Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals
– SMPR for the Determination of Fatty Acids in the SN-2 Position of Triacylglycerol Molecules in Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals
Representatives from the AOAC China Section, Codex, and ISO provided updates on global engagement, representatives from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provided updates on their program and collaboration with SPIFAN, and representatives from the US FDA provided updates on the organization’s Closer to Zero action plan to reduce child exposure to toxins in foods.
AOAC Board of Directors Meeting
View the AOAC Board of Directors
– The Board approved the creation of a new Regional Section, the Arab Section. The Section plans to hold its kickoff meeting in May 2022.
– Three AOAC staff members were recognized for 20 years of service: Maurice Green, Evelyn Hernandez, and Saliha Argubie.
– Executive Director David B. Schmidt provided updates on the Association’s progress on the 2022 AOAC Business Plan.
– Board members provided updates on partnerships and involvement with Codex, Microval, CIFST, and others.
– The Editorial Board is working to find a new Editor-in-Chief and two Section Editors for the Journal of AOAC International.
– The Board approved guidelines for the AOAC Committee of Safety and Security.
The Analytical Solutions Forum Opening Session
The session opened with an introduction into AOAC’s reach as a global organization and new collaborative agreements with the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), Land O’Lakes Venture37, and WHO/UNICEF.
Rick Johnston, Technical Officer and WHO Lead for the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation, introduced their partnership with AOAC to test portable kits for E. coli levels in drinking water. As part of the WHO and UNICEF’s efforts to ensure universal and equitable access to affordable and safe drinking water for all, they are working with AOAC’s Research Institute to develop protocols and tools for Performance Tested Methods certification. AOAC plans to issue a call for labs and methods soon!
Next, Evie Severyn Senior Supplier Quality Manager for the Dairy Foods Division at Land O’Lakes Inc. provided an overview of Land O’Lakes Venture37, a nonprofit organization which strengthens local agriculture, helps agribusinesses create jobs, and links farmers to markets. Venture37 and AOAC have partnered to jointly develop SMPRs and methods, training and education, capacity building initiatives, and other projects. Introduced by Samuel Godefroy Full Professor of Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Policies, Université Laval, The Global Food Regulatory Science Society (GFoRSS) also collaborated with Venture37 and AOAC to provide a training program for capacity building in Africa. Both speakers encouraged members to get involved by becoming mentors, supporting regional sections, supplying lab equipment, materials, or services, or participating in technical assignments.
Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, ARSO Secretary General, introduced ARSO’s background and mission, which is to facilitate intra-African and global trade through providing and facilitating the implementation of harmonized standards. There is a great need to harmonize standards across Africa and to identify priority products and value chains to do so, and ARSO and AOAC plan to work together to enable this. Recommendations included improving lab testing capacity and capability in certain areas as well as quality infrastructure, developing test methods, and data and information exchange.
Finally, AOAC staff members provided updates on AOAC’s core programs and departments: the Official Methods (OM) Program, AOAC Research Institute (RI), and Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program (LPTP), including:
– The OM Program’s plans to continue liaising with ISO Technical Committees and participate in the Interagency Meeting, CCMAS, and CCNFSDU
– The AOAC RI’s newest program, Reviewed and Recognized, and upcoming training programs
– LPTP’s efforts to meet customer needs during COVID-19, expand its geographic distribution, begin new programs, and begin developing a lab training/quality program
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