This blog was updated throughout the Midyear Meeting. The most recent updates are at the top.
NOTE: All times are in U.S. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).
Closing remarks from President Crowley
AOAC President Erin Crowley closed out the meeting with a summary of the opportunities that have arisen from this Midyear Meeting and Analytical Solutions Forum.
One of the highlights, she said, were the students presenters Miki Tkahashi of the Japan Section and Eugenia Ndieze and Ike Oguadinma of the Southern Section. “We were beyond impressed by them. Presenting is never easy, but Mika, Ike and Eugenia handled it with ease and gravitas. Kudos to all of you!”
Crowley noted that AOAC is supporting young people with three student opportunities, the Eurofins Foundation Testing For Life Award inaugurated last year, and two new student awards – the AOAC-Herbalife Nutrition Scholarship and the AOAC-SCIEX Rising Star Award. She flagged the Calls for Nominations and encouraged students to apply. “I’m really excited to see the momentum building in bringing young new volunteers into AOAC.”
She thanked everyone who participated in the discussions throughout the meeting, either as a speaker, moderator, or attendee. “It really contributed to the rich content of the sessions this week, and I loved seeing all the exchanges of ideas.”
As a final gesture, she invited everyone in the Zoom room to turn on their cameras. “As a social person, I want you to know that we are all keeping our fingers crossed that we can see each other in person at the Annual Meeting in Boston, and welcome our exciting Keynote Speaker, Dr. Temple Grandin, in person as well.” Members can expect updates as decisions are made.
President Crowley concluded with a big thank you to all who made the Midyear Meeting a success. “Let’s continue what we’ve started this week, and move forward in a spirit of new enthusiasm, mentorship and analytical excellence. A huge thank you to the AOAC team.”
AOAC Communities – A Panel Discussion on Current and Future Directions
For a list of AOAC’s 17 Communities and information on how to join, visit AOAC’s Communities web page >
In this, the final session of the 2021 Midyear Meeting, AOAC shines a spotlight on the activities of AOAC’s Communities during a special plenary session.
While all AOAC communities will be highlighted over coming meetings, today’s focus in on three selected AOAC Communities:
– The Color Additives Community, presented by Bhakti Petigara Harp, Ph.D., Research Chemist, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Cosmetics and Colors
– The Contaminants Community, presented by Victoria S. Siegel Ph.D., Analytical Service Manager, Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratories. She is reviewing current activities within the Community and in related AOAC programs and working groups, including SPIFANls work on chlorate and perchlorate SMPRs, heat generated compounds, furan and alkyl furan in specific foods, and more.
– The Dietary Supplements and Botanicals Community, presented by Darry Sullivan, Chief Science Officer and Director of Regulatory Affairs, Eurofins Scientific, Inc.. Sullivan is a past president of AOAC and has been highly active in many AOAC initiatives.
“The greater dietary supplements industry is very active,” noted Sullivan. These stakeholders gather regularly – when not in a pandemic – in large meetings, with very interesting discussions. “But what is missing is the science around testing methods, and that is where AOAC is so valuable.” He highlighted AOAC’s accomplishments in this space, including guidelines for dietary supplements and botanicals; a section in the Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL with over 250 papers; a new chapter in AOAC Official Methods of Analysis with 32 methods; training courses; 40 Expert Review Panels; 40 dietary supplement ingredients; and 34 SMPRs for 26 ingredients. “There is still work to be done,” he noted. “Hundreds of scientifically valid test methods are still needed, and it is important that we work together to accomplish this.”
Finally, we learned how AOAC communities are transitioning to LinkedIn. Dawn Frazier, AOAC Senior Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications, introduced the topic with an overview on future communities and how they can transform within a new virtual environment and give groups a venue to engage with each other.
She was joined by Kevin Kubachka, Chemist, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Forensic Chemistry Center. With Eve Kroukamp, he co-chairs the Metals Community. After an overview of their work, he gave a brief tour of the Metals Community interactive platform on LinkedIn. The presenters highlighted the Best Practices for communities and concluded with an invitation to join a community.
Attendees were treated to a live presentation by James Hungerford of Applied Technology Center, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Regulatory Affairs. He is co-chair of the AOAC Marine and Freshwater Toxins Community. He detailed how the One Health concept is key to a safe seafood supply. “Some of toxins we deal with are so potent that we end up with advisory levels like 10 parts per trillion – you can imagine how difficult that analysis is.” He started an AOAC task force that was highly successful in generating needed methods and eventually became an AOAC Community. “After a very active 10 years, as often happens, we have lost some key players and would welcome new members.”
After the presentations, panelists took questions from the audience. Joe Boison noted that the Communities can serve as vehicles for accessing expertise and ideas from other parts of the world. The panelists agreed that it is fundamental to reach out to academia and get students involved early. Palmer Orlandi noted that the LinkedIn platform allows discussions to continue in real time in between meetings, and reach a wider audience. “There is so much overlap – for example, between the Metals Community and Natural Colors. If you are only going to one community, you are missing out.”
Champion Presentation by Megazyme
This presentation was on “What’s New from Megazyme?”
Food Authenticity Methods Meeting
The final scientific session of the 2021 AOAC Midyear Meeting has started! AOAC’s Palmer Orlandi has welcomed attendees and outlined the purpose and goals of the meeting. Bert Pöpping of FOCOS gave an overview into the challenges and key issues in non-targeted testing for adulteration.
Previously, the FAM program has focused on milk, extra virgin olive oil, and honey. They are now moving on to botanicals and spices, starting with saffron, turmeric, and vanilla.
The first report outs are coming from the Botanicals & Spices Working Groups. Chairs will update us on their accomplishments to date developing SMPRs for botanicals/spices Molecular Applications, Targeted, and Non-Targeted Testing analysis. Daniele Sohier of Thermo Fisher then updated the group on Molecular Applications.
John Szpylka of FSNS discussed the work of the Non-Targeted Testing Working Group. As a long-time AOAC contributor, he included the traditional AOAC moose in his first slide. “What we’re trying to do is provide a binary analysis result: Does this matrix include adulterants or not? This is in line with real-world situations.” He reviewed their work to determine the scope for SMPRs on turmeric, saffron, and vanilla. Each has unique requirements and scope for an SMPR. “We welcome anyone interested in getting involved,” he concluded.
The final update came from Joe Boison of EJ Consultancy, covering targeted Testing (TT). He reviewed the process for developing SMPRs for primary adulterants in milk and milk products, after which the panel too questions from the audience. These included:
– Would love to know why they add guaiacol to vanilla
– How do you classify “buttergate”? Cows were fed with palm oil supplement, resulting in increased amount of saturated fat in the milk and harder button not softening at room temperature. Is it adulteration or common practice?
– Is the TT working group planning to continue working on SMPRs for other targeted adulterants in milk, particularly nitrogenous substances, dextrin, other vegetable proteins, etc.?
Following a break there was a discussion on development of an Emergency Response protocol. Darryl Sullivan of Eurofins US is reviewing lessons learned from an extraordinary case study in 2015 where terrorists threatened to contaminate infant formula with compound 1080. AOAC had numerous advantages that allowed it to mount a speedy response. First, the incident occurred shortly before a scheduled AOAC Midyear Meeting. AOAC had an active contaminants community and a globally respected program infant formula community that was already working on test methods and had processes and protocols in place. Working 14 hours a day, AOAC had three methods recommended for Official Method First Action Status in a matter of weeks.
“When experts work together the outcome can be truly remarkable,” Sullivan concluded. With harmonized, official methods, industry was able to survive and thrive.
Palmer Orlandi led a discussion where the approximately 95 attendees contributed thoughts on responding to emergencies in the food sector. Questions included:
– For emergency use methods, can we use the R2 Program (SLV + 1 independent lab) and give them an Emergency Use T2 design much like we do in the PTM program (ERV-PTM designation)?
Finally, Palmer Orlandi shared information on upcoming deadlines, reviewed action item(s), and answered additional questions.
Networking Break Sponsored by Abbott Nutrition
Fifty people grabbed their coffee, learned a little about AOAC and Abbott, and made some new friends in the breakout rooms!
Heat-Generated Compounds in Foods
This two-part session under the AOAC Analytical Solutions Forum will examine the analytical progress for heat generated compounds in foods. Acrylamide is not deliberately added to foods – it is a natural by-product of the cooking process formed when starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures.
Part 1 is focused on “Acrylamide: Old Problem, New Needs.” Part 2 covers “Furans and New Analytical Opportunities.”
The session is underway with 106 attendees. We heard from Katerina Mastovska of Eurofins on “Heat Generated Food Processing Contaminants: An Overview” and “New needs from a food chemical risk assessment perspective” presented by Natalie Thatcher of Mondelēz International.
We are now viewing “Current methodology and challenges with analysis of Acrylamide in food products presented by Marta Ahijado Fernandez and Jason Beasley, RSSL with Thierry Delatour/Aurélien Desmarchelier of Société des Produits Nestlé.
The presentations were followed by a live Q&A and discussion. Questions included:
– Do you feel that the HRMS method gives you an advantage over TSQ analysis? If so, what are the advantages?
– Did you have a workflow preference, tMS2, DIA or ddMS2 and why?
– Are there any predictive models that can account for the common processing steps that would allow shifting the analytical focus to asparagine measurement?
– How is the regulation of acrylamide in dietary supplements?
– If acrylamide results primarily from heat treatment, does it mean that foods that are not subjected to any heat treatment are all considered to be safe to eat?
– Why isn’t derivatization being pursued to achieve better selectivity?
– Given that Maillard reactions occur in vivo, is acrylamide formed in vivo?
– Once formed, are there no known means of removing acrylamide in food products?
The panelists addressed these and more questions in a lively discussion.
Champion Presentation by Thermo Fisher Scientific
This presentation was on “Next Generation Orbitrap Exploris Mass Spectrometers for Food Analysis.”
Champion Presentation by PerkinElmer
This presentation was on “Achieving Operational Simplicity and Efficiency with Cannabis ONE420 CRM Reagent Kits.”
Champion Presentation by Agilent
This presentation was on “A Robust, Multi-class Veterinary Drug Residue Analysis of Various Muscle Meat Matrices Using LC-MS/MS.”
AOAC Shines the Spotlight on the Japan and Southern Sections
This session was the first of what AOAC plans to make an ongoing focus on the activities of AOAC regional Sections. Today two notable sections will be highlighted, with some selected student research projects.
“At our last Annual Meeting, when we asked stakeholders for feedback, there was a near-universal request to hear more about the Sections,” said AOAC’s Dawn Frazier. “That was the impetus for this plenary, and we are adding student research as well.”
The 10:00am session started with an overview of their activities from the Japan Section. Hiroko Suzuki, President of the Japan Section and Executive director, Division of Quality Assurance, Japan Food Research Laboratories, spoke on “Changing Activities of the Japan Section with Covid-19 and recent Regulatory Topics in Japan.”
We also heard from Kazumi Kitta, Ph.D. of the Food Research Institute, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization in Japan. She spoke on “New Reference Material for PCR Quality Control at Low Copy Number Level.”
Then Eri Matsumoto, Ph.D., Chief Investigator, Section of Inorganic Analysis, Japan food Research Laboratories, shared a talk on “Current Status and Trends of Arsenic Analysis in Japan.”
Finally, the Japan Section presented a student lecture. Miki Tkahashi, Ph.D., of the University of Ritsumeikan, shared her work on “Single Reference HPLC Approach for Application of Food Analysis.”
For the U.S. Southern Section, we heard from one Section member and two student scientists. William Holmes, Director of Process Chemistry and Mass Spectrometry at the Energy Institute of Louisiana, gave an overview of the Southern Section. Dr. Holmes is Past President of the southern Section and is still active on its executive board. After the overview, he introduced the Section’s student researchers, Eugenia Ndieze (below left) and Ike Oguadinma (below right).
“Many of our students have been a part of the Southern Section for several years, and they are going on to great things,” he enthused. “We hope to see them again in the Southern Section as part of the leadership as they advance in their careers.”
Their first student scientist, Eugenia Ndieze, is a junior undergraduate student of Chemical Engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She conducts her research at the Energy Institute of Louisiana on the campus of UL. She plans on attending graduate school for her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. She shared her work on “Anaerobic digestion of synthetic wastewater for a biochemical waste conversion system.” Due to a research facility on extraterrestrial exploration she found at her school, she took the unusual approach of basing this research on an outer space model.
Finally, we heard from Ikechukwu ‘Ike’ Oguadinma, a graduate student at the Food Science department at the University of Georgia. He obtained a bachelors in Biochemistry at the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Nigeria and a master’s degree in Food Science at the University of Georgia. He presented “For Better or for Worse: Research on antimicrobial resistance in E. coli O157: H7.” This research was aimed at determining if acquired resistance to antibiotics impacts phenotypic expression in this strain of E. coli. Next steps for this research will be to investigate if identified changes are strain specific. “We are open to collaborations!” he concluded.
The presentations were followed by a live Q&A, although due to the time difference the Japan Section was unable to participate. Questions included:
– How were these students connected with these topics for research?
“I have always been interested in food science and food safety,” responded Ike Oguadinma. “My parents are pharmacists, and my mom always said food was medicine.” At the University of Georgia he was introduced to research and to AOAC.
– How does the Southern Section entice students to attend meetings? This is important for all of AOAC INTERNATIONAL.
Dr. Holmes noted that it is important to catch students early and he noted that Eugenia is a college junior; today’s was her first scientific presentation ever.
Symposium: FSMA Requirements for Accredited Laboratories
The regulatory environment is changing for food testing laboratories. The FDA has a mandate to develop an accreditation program to meet the requirements of FSMA and ensure that food is safe. The new accreditation program will rely heavily on the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025: 2017, the recognized international standard for testing laboratories, but also includes requirements from the 2018 AOAC International Guidelines, as well as certain program-specific requirements.
The meeting started at 8:30am with a presentation by Ruiqing Pamboukian, Ph.D. of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Regulatory Affairs. She spoke on “Laboratory Accreditation for Analysis of Foods Proposed Rule.” After reviewing some high-level requirements of FSMA, she detailed testing covered by the Rule.
She noted that questions will be taken by all speakers at the end of the symposium.
We then heard about the “The Role of ILAC in Quality Infrastructure and Trade,” presented by Pete Unger, President of IQEIS. He started with a historical overview of ILAC and some of the challenges and the significant cooperative effort involved. He then reviewed membership categories, and membership – which now includes 102 full members from 104 economies. “ILAC’s mission is simple,” he noted “Accredited once, accepted everywhere.”
The final presentation was “Accreditation Under FSMA: Trusting Laboratory Data,” presented by Trace McInTurff of A2LA, the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation. He gave a tour of their program, and detailed their process for maintaining confidentiality of accreditation records and data. On requirements for ISO/IEC 17025:2017, he noted some areas of risk for labs, their responsibilities for data security and confidentiality, resource, facilities, and equipment requirements, and more.
The presenters answered questions in a live Q&A. Questions included:
– How does ILAC ensure all AB Assessors are calibrated across the world?
– Are assessors familiar enough with new technology, and how is that ensured?
– Will other ISO management system standards, e.g. 35001 Laboratory Biorisk, be used for accreditation by FDA?
– How are unvalidated methods used for an emergency response event considered?
– Would the decision rule need to be consulted with customers at all times?
– False positives (and false negatives) can cause a big disruption to customers. How is this managed in terms of maintaining accreditation?
Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP) Meeting
This meeting welcomed over 100 participants online.
David Schmidt, AOAC INTERNATIONAL’s Executive Director, welcomed attendees, after which Christopher Dent, CASP Program Lead, reviewed the program to date, and we moved on to an orientation to AOAC’s Standard Method Performance Requirements (SMPR) development process from Deborah McKenzie, AOAC INTERNATIONAL.
“All stakeholders are entitled to due process,” she emphasized. “All stakeholders can share their perspectives. Anyone with a material interest may participate, and standards are established with balance – a lack of dominance by any one interest.” She the gave a tour of a typical SMPR document, and the components of AOAC standards development activities.
Claire Patterson of the Michigan Regulatory Agency, will present on “The Evolution of Cannabis Science: A Mutualism Between Regulation and Standardization.”
The meeting continued with updates from the Working Groups.
The Cannabinoids in Consumables Working Group report out is being presented by Holly Johnson of the American Herbal Products Association. She is discussing AOAC’s guidance on dry weight testing. She reviewed the many comments received as AOAC was developing the guidance. She noted some confusion around USDA regulations, but emphasized that for the crude drying step, “all that matters is getting the fresh material to a point where can be ground up for testing.”
Updates from the Chemical Contaminants Working Group were presented by consultant Julie Kowalski. She noted that a Call for Methods has been issued for “Mycotoxin Screening Technique in Cannabis Plant Materials and Cannabis Derivatives.” She also alerted participants that the SMPR for quantitative mycotoxins methods is currently open for public comment. Another opportunity to contribute is a Best Practices Manual being developed by the North American Chemical Residue Workshop (NACRW). The “Reference Material Use in Trace Analysis” will have a chapter on cannabis and hemp materials and they need cannabis representation.
We then heard from the Microbial Contaminants Working Group, presented by Julia Bramante of the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment; the Training & Education Working Group, presented by Toby Astill of PerkinElmer; and the Proficiency Testing Working Group, presented by Walter Brent Wilson of NIST.
After a brief Q&A, the meeting wrapped up.
Stakeholder Panel on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals (SPIFAN) Meeting
In today’s SPIFAN meeting, participants will vote on draft SMPRs for HMOs and provide preliminary votes for draft SMPRs for chlorates and perchlorates and vitamin C. You’ll also provide input on endorsing proposed changes to the validation guidance for single laboratory validation (OMA, Appendix L).
The meeting started with a welcome from Darryl Sullivan of Eurofins and a review of AOAC policies for Antitrust, Volunteer Conflict of Interest, and Use of Association Name and Insignia.
To bring the 80-plus attendees up to speed, the working groups then presented their current status.
On Human Milk Oligosaccharides, Darryl Sullivan, Deborah McKenzie, and Yannis Vrasidas (Consultant) presented the proposed Standard Method Performance Requirements (SMPR) for Human Milk Oligosaccharides including 3FL, 3’SL, 6’SL, DFL and LNT in Infant and Adult/Pediatric Nutritional Formula. The five HMO SMPRs are back in ballot and are being voted on following the meeting
For Chlorates/Perchlorates, Katerina Mastovska of Eurofins and Melissa Phillips of the U.S. NIST updated attendees on proposed SMPR for Chlorates/Perchlorates in Infant and Adult/Pediatric Nutritional Formula currently in review by stakeholders. This included “hot off the presses,” information from Melissa Phillips on reference materials. The group moved to approve the draft SMPR preliminarily by electronic vote following the meeting. Any approval will be final after a 30-day comments period is complete.
For the joint AOAC-China GB project on Vitamin C, Esther Campos-Gimenez of Nestlé, also representing co-chair Lyu Ning of Qingdao Customs Technology Center, updated attendees on the proposed SMPR for Vitamin C in Infant and Adult/Pediatric Nutritional Formula, currently in review by the stakeholders. The scope of matrices includes all forms of infant, adult, or pediatric formula, as well as baby food, complementary food supplements, nutritional supplements for pregnant women and nursing women, and sports nutrition food. The SMPR will be presented to Chinese stakeholders in the AOAC China meeting in May. “This has been a very productive process,” noted Darryl Sullivan. The SMPR is in preliminary ballot and is being voted on while being posted for comment. AOAC plans to issue a Call for Methods shortly after the vote.
Following this, the co-chairs of the new A2 Beta Casein Working Group, Quang Son Pham of Abbott Nutrition and Jeffrey Shippar of EurofinsUS, introduced some background information on A2 milk. Pham noted that many new players are entering the A2 space and competition has increased. “But there is no clear definition of A2 milk, and testing approaches vary from genetic to protein.” This topic generated an extensive conversation about next steps. “Regulators are unlikely to listen to analytical scientists and we will probably have to meet whatever they come up with,” noted Dustin Starkey of Abbott. “So it is important to keep talking with regulators worldwide as this product receives more attention.” Deborah McKenzie noted that people can sign up for the working groups for another three weeks.
The Working Group updates concluded with a report out from Brendon Gill of Fonterra on another new Working Group on Phospholipids. He reviewed current methodology, the regulatory landscape, and technologies. One participant suggested that we should expect regulations on individual phospholipids to come. This Working Group is currently accepting new volunteers.
The two new working groups are now officially launched and have their scopes.
Break: Attendees all turned on their cameras as Darryl Sullivan noted the number of participants from all over the world.
After the Working Group updates, there was an update on AOAC Sections Collaboration from Chengzhu Liang, AOAC China Section President, and Lei Bao of Nestlé. They presented an overview and timeline for the draft GB submission to CFSA by AOAC China section leadership.
Darryl Sullivan and Palmer Orlandi then provided a brief update on the Codex process in relation to the review and adoption of AOAC SPIFAN Methods. Marcel de Vreeze (ISO/NEN)/Aurélie Dubois (IDF) also gave updates related to SO/IDF infant formula & adult nutritional activities.
Martine van Gool of FrieslandCampina presented on the Single Laboratory Validation guidelines as revised. Melissa Phillips of NIST reported out on the status of the NIST program, and Darryl Sullivan presented methods submitted for review and next steps to discuss the upcoming AOAC SPIFAN Nutrients Expert Review Panel meeting to be held April 29, 2021 in conjunction with AOAC Analytical Methods Week.
Darryl Sullivan wrapped up the meeting with a timeline of AOAC SPIFAN activities including upcoming deadlines, review of any action items, and additional questions. He concluded, “I do hope I see you at the Annual Meeting – the decision will be made in June on whether it will be in-person in Boston, but I hope we can see each other in person soon.”
Champion Presentation by Shimadzu
Eberhart Kuhn presented on “Hemp – It All Starts with the Root.”
Champion Presentation by Waters
Waters Corporation presented on “Advanced Food Testing Workflows.”
Analytical International Methods and Standards (AIMS) Program Meeting
AOAC INTERNATIONAL’s AIMS is a new program designed to address emerging microbial threats to food safety; to deliver analytical solutions to capability gaps in laboratory testing; and, to develop standards for the use of cutting-edge diagnostic technologies and applications.
This meeting focused on non-culturable pathogens – food-borne viruses initially – and the challenges to support methods development and validation (criteria, appropriate surrogates, reference materials, etc.).
Erin Crowley, President of AOAC INTERNATIONAL, welcomed participants, after which she switched hats to her role as Chief Scientific Officer at Q Laboratories to present the perspective of a contract laboratory.
We heard the kit manufacturer perspectives from Prasant Prusty of Pathogenia and the regulatory perspective from Efi Papafragkou of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Suzanne Jordan of ISO presented, starting by noting the need for international methods to have globally good implementation, be used by industry and in regulations, and be rapid, affordable, and understandable.
A general discussion followed, moderated by Erin Crowley, who concluded, “This is a good opportunity to really harmonize from the beginning. The way to do that is to have overlap of representation from international organizations.”
Glutens and Food Allergens Meeting
This meeting focused on allowing participants to engage with working group chairs and add input on what should be included in method validation guidance for both gluten and food allergens.
Deborah McKenzie, AOAC Director of Standards, kicked off the meeting with the news that “Today we are launching two working groups as part of this program” She shared the historical perspective which started in 2002 with the formation of the AOAC Presidential Task Force on Food Allergens. Since then, AOAC has developed four SMPRs for egg, milk, peanut, and hazelnut; one SMPR for gluten – oats, and a full section devoted to allergens in the Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL.
Despite this progress, it was clear that more was needed. “In the last Midyear Meeting, we had a frank conversation on the issues that were holding progress back,” she noted. “It was really clear that we were either thinking too small, or we needed something more.” Since then challenges have continued to build as SMPRs became more challenging (or impossible) to implement and validation questions mounted. This was the impetus of the decision to form a new program covering the broad range of needs including reference materials, SMPRs and methods, validation guidance, proficiency testing, and education and training.
AOAC Program Manager Delia Boyd gave a review of the AOAC process and how it will guide the initiation of a new program, including formation of an advisory panel, stakeholder participation, standards and consensus products, guidance, and orientation training. She also shared examples of the various documents such as SMPRs.
Following the presentations, the working groups kicked off development of the validation guidelines with an overview of the needs, scope and process as well as background information including technologies. The Gluten Working Group Discussion will be chaired by Laura Allred of the Gluten Intolerance Group. The Food Allergens Working Group Discussion will be chaired by Melanie Downs of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Stakeholder Panel on Agent Detection Assays (SPADA) Meeting
This meeting is featuring a “thought leader discussion” to define the strategy for a proposed AOAC SPADA project to expand the use of next generation sequencing applications, including in silico analysis, molecular diagnostics and next generation sequencing applications for high priority unculturable and emerging biothreat pathogens for environmental surveillance.
The meeting started with a Welcome & Introductions presentation from Palmer Orlandi, Chief Science Officer of AOAC INTERNATIONAL. Previous SPADA work is now being presented by AOAC Consultant Sharon Brunelle. She noted next steps which include creating OMA guidelines and SMPR for NGS Biothreat Agent Detectors.
This was followed the government perspective from Shanmuga Sozhamannan of DOD/JPEO, and questions from the participants.
Jonathan Jacobs, Ph.D. of ATCC presented on Strain Identification & Bioinformatics. He is currently leading a project on authenticating databases of materials, so every single reference genome has perfect authenticity. He shared a flowchart mapping the steps in the pipeline needed to account for “unknown unknowns.”
He summed it up with “It’s all about the databases, stupid!” and shared examples of how to build federated databases that are “lean, curated, and authenticated.” A general discussion followed. Issues discussed included finding the right balance in establishing boundaries while still representing strain diversity adequately. “You can have one strain in your sample, but it looks like there are 12 because that’s he way the database is built.”
Jonathan Jacobs, Ph.D. of ATCC presented on Strain Identification & Bioinformatics. He is currently leading a project on authenticating databases of materials, so every single reference genome has perfect authenticity. He shared a flowchart mapping the steps in the pipeline needed to account for “unknown unknowns.”
He summed it up with “It’s all about the databases, stupid!” and shared examples of how to build federated databases that are “lean, curated, and authenticated.” A general discussion followed including finding the right balance in establishing boundaries while still representing strain diversity. “You can have one strain in your sample, but it looks like there are 12 because that’s the way the database is built.”
“Some things can be automated, but you also have to have human beings as curators,” he noted. For example, you could have the correct genome in the database, but if it is tagged as the wrong organism, it takes a human to identify the problem.
Danielle Sohier of ThermoFisher Scientific shared an industry perspective, focusing on the customer’s experiences and expectations. She said that AOAC can play a significant role in a road map to success, starting with focusing on biothreat agent, definition/selection of a reference method, validation criteria for genotype-to-phenotype determinations, SMPR incorporating in silico processes, including targeted and metagenomic approaches, and more.
The meeting is running long but it’s worth it as we hear from Jesse Miller of Neogen. He gave a historical overview on sequencing technology. Where are we now? “Cloud processing is a great way to borrow other people’s capabilities, but how do we deal with data integrity in third party data analysis?” He showed the evolution of the cost of sequencing and how it factors into a business model. Neogen comes into it as an industry partner, with a large food safety and ag footprint. They do 500,000 agrigenomic tests a month, but metagenomic sequencing is trailing. Looking ahead, there is probably an opportunity for AOAC to collaborate through ISO, standardization and different technology detection types, and more. “My advice for AOAC is to not make this so complex that people can’t understand.”
The meeting wrapped up with a discussion chaired by AOAC’s Palmer Orlandi on Thought Leader Input: Challenges, Priorities, and Opportunities. Discussion has been extensive on the question of whether standards for genomics should be platform-agnostic. Orlandi has posed the question: What are our starting points, given the many moving parts needed to meet the needs of the community? Others have questioned whether we should rely on public databanks, or are there security issues and “junk” to filter out? What about databases whose funding is sporadic, limiting long-term curation?
Palmer Orlandi closed the meeting with an invitation to participate in the development of this project.
Town Hall and Panel Discussion: Standards for Safety and Security
With safety being the number one priority in today’s testing and quality environment, AOAC is re-examining its Committee on Safety with an expansion to broaden the scope of safety considerations beyond just methods and to include security. This town hall and panel discussion will provide awareness and allow input into creating a culture of safety and security.
With 104 people attending, the Town Hall started with AOAC President Erin Crowley introducing how this topic fits in with the organization’s vision and mission, and what AOAC’s history is with safety. The AOAC Committee on Safety was established in 1965 with emphasis on safety as part of the Official Methods Program. Currently, the Committee reviews a small number of micro proprietary methods in process to integrate safety in methods, but generally safety has been considered the responsibility of the Method Author. The idea is to establish a liaison function to areas of interest such as artificial intelligence, cloud-based technologies, eOMA security, data integrity, and proficiency testing. President Crowley is wrapping up with thanks to the Committee Chair Wendy McMahon who is chairing the discussion.
The panelists will be driving the conversation with perspectives from specific focus areas:
– Don Gilliland, Ph.D. of Abbott: The Official Methods Board
– Jesse Miller, Ph.D. of Neogen: Data, molecular
– Susan Audino, Ph.D. of S.A. Audino & Associates: Accreditation, cannabis
– Scott Coates, of AOAC: Micro, biothreats
– Elan Sudberg, Ph.D. of Alkemist Labs: Ransomware/IT
– Daniele Sohier, Ph.D. of Thermo Fisher Scientific: International
AOAC INTERNATIONAL Core Program Updates – The Analytical Solutions Forum
AOAC’s Chief Science Officer Palmer Orlandi is giving an overview of the goals and function of the Analytical Solutions Forum, which include updating stakeholders on core AOAC science programs; covering the globe to present regulatory perspectives on food, feed and environmental concerns; and presenting emerging analytical opportunities and challenges. Advances are driven by the ASF steering committee, mini-symposia, town hall discussions, round tables, and thought leader discussions.
Moving forward, AOAC is now engaged in a new international collaboration with the African Organisation for Standarization (ARSO). “This is a natural fit,” Orlandi notes. “These new standards will benefit African trade both inside the continent and abroad. “
Orlandi highlights the value of thought leader discussions, using the new Gluten and Food Allergen Program as an example. The discussions create broad interest and engagement, bring in a breadth of perspectives an needs, and help AOAC move from strategy to tactics. The Gluten and Food Allergen Program, which started in the ASF, has launched and is addressing ongoing, new and novel challenges within two working groups that are cooperating in overlapping areas like guidance, reference materials, etc.
AOAC INTERNATIONAL Core Program Updates
AOAC’S review of programs is starting the Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program, presented by Arlene Fox. She is describing how the program has overcome obstacles, the expansion of the program to Brazil, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Adding stable matrices like infant formula has allowed more distant countries to participate, such as Kenya and Thailand. The new Hemp Proficiency Testing Program is starting with 3-4 groups of analytes and AOAC is examining setting up training and quality program to support new labs and expanding their scope of accreditation. She noted that the two programs have different targets: The PT program is best for established routine tests, while the proposed training program is best for new/internal methods and samples or new staff/analytes. Looking to the future, AOAC’s LPTP program plans to identify new geographic areas and programs.
Scott Coates, Senior Director of the AOAC Research Institute, is giving a review of the Performance Tested Methods program. New programs include the Onsite Method Validation model which eliminates the need for shipping; the Analytical Consulting Science Program where AOAC makes its Technical Consultants available for writing manuscripts, literature research, preparation of methods in OMA format, special projects, and more. AOAC’s Emergency Response Validation program is designed to respond to urgent new analytical challenges in a timely way. RI also is opening a program to respond to urgent new matrix applications with a Targeted Matrix Extensions Program, starting with cannabis (salmonella, STEC, aspergillus, and mycotoxins). Finally, the new Reviewed and Recognized (R2) Program is a certification program for technology providers where AOAC will review the procedures and claims in application notes. This can be an interim step into the AOAC validation system for technology providers. AOAC is planning up to two pilot projects for 2021 and will open the program to all comers in 2022.
Deborah McKenzie has taken over the microphone with an overview of the AOAC Standards and Official Methods Program, recent accomplishents, active and evolving programs, and how to get involved.
– A big player in the OMA program is the high-performing SPIFAN program which has racked up 60 first actions methods, 22 final actions methods, 16 designated as Codex Type II, and more in its 11-year collaboration. Two new working groups are planned including A2 beta casein and phospholipids; both are now forming.
– The Cannabis Analytical Science Program has five working groups and has produced 10 SMPRs, three ERPs, two first action methods, a suite of webinars, and an amazing networking and engagement opportunity.
– The Food Authenticity Methods program has published six SMPRs and has three active working groups. Current calls include method validation plans for olive oil, honey and milk as well as a call for experts to form ERPs.
– The new Gluten and Food Allergens Program will address new and ongoing challenges. This is a follow on to the ISPAM program that produced five SMPRs for food allergens and one for gluten, as well as six official methods for gluten and one for food allergens. Tomorrow we will be launching the two working groups.
– A new Working Group on Glyphosates, launched in September of 2020, is approaching the stage of a call for comments for a draft SMPR. The goal is science allowing determination of glyphosate and metabolites in 37 matrices.
– The Rosins Working Group, a recent startup, has issued calls for methods and experts following development of four smprs for neutral components.
– The Veterinary Drug program is working in India on regional matrices.
– The dates of the upcoming AOAC Analytical Methods Weeks in April, August, and December of 2021.
In related standards activities, AOAC has an ad hoc expert panel on sweetness and a new initiative on veterinary drug residues in Indian matrices. AOAC continues its engagement with ISO and IDF, Codex, and its role as liaison to US TAG to ISO/TC 34. We are currently in discussions about playing a role in TC 134 as well.
The AOAC Technical Division on Reference Materials, and its database, are increasing active participation in AOAC science programs. They are also conducting training and education workshops on reference materials and a plan for student recognition.
McKenzie is concluding with a big thank you to our volunteers and information on how to get involved. “You are the key to our success.”
Questions from the attendees included:
– What resources would you recommend for a new AOAC member to review to learn more about involvement and participation in the program? See the AOAC Member Experience page >
Champion Presentation by Eurofins: Eurofins Food & Supplement Testing – What’s New in 2021
AOAC thanks Eurofins for sharing their expertise.
Champion Presentation by SCIEX: What Can Sensitivity Give You Other than Lower LOQs?
Jonathan Goodwin of AOAC has introduced this hour dedicated to our Champions, with thanks to both for sharing their expertise. We are starting with SCIEX.
Emerging Topics and Technologies Session: Responding to a Pandemic: Lessons Learned from COVID19
AOAC’s Research Institute Senior Director Scott Coates in introducing this session, which will examine the AOAC community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will hear about AOAC leadership and implementation of the Emergency Response Validation (ERV) project, and use of in silico analysis for the first time for the purpose of validation. The session will finish with a discussion of problems to be solved, lessons learned, and recommendations for future high impact validations. Session participants will learn how AOAC will respond, and what roles they might be asked to take for the next pandemic or public health crises.
Today’s speakers are Laura Bleichner, Head of Kit Development at Eurofins GeneScan joined by Nadine Gohring, Head of Project management, Eurofins GeneScan; followed by Alex Brandt, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer at Food Safety Net Services. Finally, we will hear from Kenton Lohman, Ph.D., Principal Science Advisor for Life Sciences, MRIGlobal.
Scott Coates is reviewing the history of the novel coronavirus from its inception in Wuhan, China through the initial talks at AOAC on how to contribute to the solution and on to the organization’s rapid response. As manufacturers began implementing deep cleaning protocols, and studies indicated potential for the virus to survive on surfaces for some time, cleaning protocols would have to be validated. AOAC could contribute by validated the test kits for surface detection. But time was of the essence so AOAC implemented a Rapid Response program. The AOAC Research Institute received eight applications following a Call for Applications in May of 2020. By December, six kits had been reviewed and approved, using novel in silico technology. Seven months is a short lead time in this arena. “You have to do the science, the validation must be done right,” noted Coates. “AOAC was totally unprepared. Not all companies were ready at the same time, and we had to allow for the unknown at the independent testing lab. But we pulled together a program from ground zero. This was only possible due to the help from our four Technical Consultants and a phenomenal effort from the expert reviewers.” Read about the project in this press release.
Project consultant Sharon Brunell has presented the project in more detail, especially the in silico approach.
We are now getting a kit developer’s perspective from Laura Bleichner, Head of Kit Development and Nadine Gohring, Head of Project management at Eurofins GeneScan. “Both sides could benefit if we could align how the study looks like before the study is started,” Gohring noted in her Lessons Learned Summary. She also discussed how, as mutations arise, Eurofins will emphasize a collaborative approach to upgrade to full Performance Tested Method status.
Representing the independent laboratory perspective, Alex Brandt of Food Safety Net Services is presenting now on the need for environmental surfaces testing for COVID-19 and their collaborative work with ThermoFisher and bioMerieux to adapt existing technologies for this purpose.
Kenton Lohman of MRIGlobal has started his presentation on laboratory and product challenges of dealing with a pandemic. “Diagnostic tests are the first line of response to a pandemic,” he noted. MRIGlobal is working with many clients with different technologies, so learning and training on this virus has been key.
In the Q & A, some of the questions received include:
– Sars-Cov-2 already can infect minks and some felines. Will these tests be adapted as this virus adapts to potential food animal hosts?
– Most early studies focused on detectable RNA instead of infectious particles. Is there a distance between amplicons and/or minimum amplicon size that is used to help differentiate between small viral RNA fragments versus potential infectious particles?
– Can CRISPR like sequences be detected in previously infected people?
Scott Coates is wrapping up the session.
The Analytical Solutions Forum, Day 2
Today’s ASF includes an open discussion with members of the ASF Steering Committee, an emerging topics and technologies session focused on “lessons learned” from the AOAC community’s response to COVID-19, AOAC core program updates, a town hall and panel discussion on standards for safety and security, and Champion presentations from SCIEX and Eurofins. As we kick off, 111 attendees worldwide are participating.
The ASF Steering Committee includes co-Chair Melissa Phillips of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology; Brad Stawick of Stawick Lab management; Darryl Sullivan of Eurofins, Erik Konings of the Nestle Institute of Food Safety and Analytical Sciences; Cheryl Lassitter of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Seafood Inspection Laborator; Hong You of Eurofins; Brooke Roman of Neogen; Aniko Solyom of GAAS Corporation; Pat Bird of PMB BioTek Consulting; Morgan Wallace of Rheonix (co-Chair); Jing Tan of Abbott Nutrition; Solomon Kariuki of the Division of Regulatory Services, University of Kentucky; Catherine Rimmer of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology Chemical Sciences Division; Selen Stromgren of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Regulatory Affairs; William Shaw of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service; and Franz Ulberth, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit.
Steering Committee members are introducing topics to be discussed as part of today’s ASF, including topics that will be addressed in detail such as safety and security.
Erik Konings is discussing the evolution of analytical science and regulations for Furans and Acrylamides.
Cheryl Lassitter is discussing assays for detecting algaltoxins toxins such as saxitoxins. Multiple organizations, including AOAC, are helping validate good methods to detect toxins that bioaccumulate in seafood and endanger human health.
Darryl Sullivan is reviewing the broad range of emerging issues that are being addressed in this year’s Analytical Solutions Forum. “This is the opportunity to see what the standards needs are in AOAC, how can we best serve the members, and how can we move forward.” Focusing on the dietary supplement arena, Sullivan notes that AOAC has over 40 Official Methods for dietary supplements, even more important during the pandemic when supplement sales have soared and some bad actors have entered the scene.
The meeting has entered an open Q & A session. Questions include:
– Would a compendial monograph approach be suitable to characterize a food / ingredient?
– Should AOAC develop a method for MOSH and MOAH?
– What steps is the ASF considering focusing on regarding environmental sustainability, a key One Health concept?
– Are there any reliable methods and/or technology/instruments that can help characterize synthetic curcuminoids, a potential adulterant?
– Sample preparation is an important part of analytical workflow. What are trends in sample preparation, such as potentially lab robots to streamline manual operation?
– The One Health approach supports sustainability and feeding the world, including training farmers to promote healthy soil. Is there a soil community opportunity?
Palmer Orlandi has noted that a potential area of interest for the ASF could be rapid hand-held technology. Melissa Phillips is closing the session and directing participants to the next session on the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Sponsored by Eurofins
The second day of the 2021 Midyear Meeting has started! More than 50 attendees from around the world are enjoying a networking break sponsored by Eurofins. Following some fascinating presentations, Eurofins is now taking questions from the audience about their technology for COVID-19 contact tracing, lactose in milk, and more.
Plenary Presentation – Challenges in food safety analytical science in the Southeast Asia region
Presented by Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit, RCh
Professor, Department of Chemistry, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines
Dr. Dayrit, a member of the board of directors to the new AOAC Southeast Asia Section, has been highly active in the Philippines chemistry community for 20 years. As a long time educator, Dr. Dayrit advocates for chemistry in the Philippines, where it is still a relatively small industry and field. The country has been developing rapidly in various fields of science such as information technology and biology (as a biodiversity hotspot).
Dr. Dayrit has completed his presentation and is now answering questions from the audience.
Plenary Presentation – Focus on the Middle East
Presented by Brahim Houla, Gulf Cooperation Council Accreditation Center, Saudi Arabia
AOAC’s Palmer Orlandi has opened today’s Plenary with an introduction of our speakers.
We are starting with Brahim Houla, an industrial engineer with Master’s degree in production systems management who has conducted research in renewable energy in Tunisia. Dr. Houla is discussing “Accredited conformity assessment results as an enabler for regulators in Asia Pacific and the Arab region – Product safety regulations in the GCC countries as case study.”
Symposium: AOAC INTERNATIONAL and the “One Health” Approach
Presented by Rear Admiral David P. Goldman, MD, MPH of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Office of Food Policy and Response
AOAC posted a preview article on this presentation that you can read here.
Dr. Goldman has given us a historical overview of the One Health approach. He noted how whole genome sequencing revolutionized our ability to link bacterial isolates from any source – animal, human, or the environment. Focusing on vegetable row crops and produce safety as One Health problem, he discussed salmonella and E. coli which predominate in outbreaks. He is discussing reservoirs and transmission pathways with some specific examples, and the FDA’s process for farm investigation.
“Outbreak investigations + One Health collaborations = action,” he says, noting the many players in the process from industry, to academia and government. All are required for detection, traceback, farm investigations, lab analyses, communications and action. In summary, produce safety needs a One Health solution.
Finally, he left us with this: Bacterial foodborne illness costs $13 billion per year. Meanwhile, whole genome sequencing has been enormously beneficial – to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year – by allowing us to detect outbreaks earlier and smaller, and by preventing food waste. Evolving analytical methods are a major tool in our ability to solve foodborne outbreaks.
Symposium: AOAC INTERNATIONAL and the “One Health” Approach
Introduction by Cheryl Stroud, DVM, Executive Director of the One Health Commission
AOAC INTERNATIONAL’s 2021 Midyear Meeting and Analytical Solutions Forum introduces the Global One Health Concept, a collaborative, multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach that to ensure human health we must recognize the interconnects between humans, animals, plants, and the environment. A symposium and multiple presentations will highlight AOAC’s role both generally and in specific areas of urgent attention.
What is One Health all about? Dr. Stroud is presenting an overview of the scope, systems challenges, and the international community.
If you are not watching Dr. Stroud’s presentation, you are missing something important and fascinating! We are learning about shared human-animal environments and microbiome and issues like antibiotic resistance including human impacts on marine mammals, poultry farming, soil microbes, and more. “The microbial community in the ground is as important as the one in our guts.”
“It is almost impossible to get medical doctors to attend veterinary conferences, or veterinary doctors to attend medical conferences. This is a shame.”
Dr. Stroud is concluding her presentation by reiterating that “no one profession can know everything. Collaborations start with relationships that won’t magically happen on their own.”
The Analytical Solutions Forum, Day 1
AOAC President Erin Crowley has just kicked off Day 1 of the 2021 Midyear Meeting and Analytical Solutions Forum with an overview of the theme and acknowledgments to the many people who have made this possible.
Dr. Palmer Orlandi has introduced the Analytical Solutions Forum. The ASF continues its mission to serve as an idea incubator and horizon-scanning tool in its 5th Edition during the 2021 Midyear Meeting. Over the course of the next two days, we will highlight emerging food safety concerns from two distinct regions of the world (Southeast Asia and the Middle East), introduce a timely emerging challenge, provide an update on ongoing AOAC core program activities and offer an open discussion between attendees and members of the Analytical Solutions Forum Steering Committee.
Dr. Orlandi has moved on to introduce the One Health Approach, the theme of this year’s Analytical Solutions Forum.
AOAC Board of Directors meeting
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Reputation – Past Presidents Council, Official Methods Board, and Editorial Board
Bob Koeritzer is discussing the Past Presidents Council, whose function he sees as not running the organization but helping the organization run better. They are focused currently on helping re-energize the Sections.
Joe Boison of the Official Methods Board is reviewing OMB’s 10 infrastructure working groups, their First Quarter goals, and next steps for the Second Quarter. Highlights include revitalizing the Committee on Safety and Security, Katerina Mastovska’s 2021 Wiley Award, and the appointment of OMB member Salvatore Parisi as a fulltime judge in the Italian judiciary system to deal with crimes committed by health professionals such as research chemists. Beth Mudge has agreed to champion the Working Group on Volunteers as Dr. Parisi becomes less available. Moving forward, the OMB will be recruiting volunteers and looking at wys to use technology to facilitate progress, as well as finalizing an improved process for prioritizing OMB work.
Dr. Brendon Gill is discussing the Editorial Board/Publications activities. Accomplishments include an Authors Working Group revision of instructions to authors. The new document is straightforward, easy to follow with clear expectations for manuscript standards, adoption of authorship CRediT roles, ethics, and conflicts of interest. Looking forward, the Editorial Board has approved the creation of an active Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL. This volunteer position will serve as liaison between the Section Editors and the Board and will have a goal of raising the profile of the Journal and providing leadership and supervision to Section Editors.
The Board voted to approve an updated Terms of Reference that includes the new Editor-in-Chief position.
President Crowley has closed the meeting with a thank you to the record number of attendees at the virtual open meeting of the AOAC Board of Directors.
AOAC Board of Directors meeting
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Erik Könings is updating the Board on activities of the AOAC international sections, in particular the new Southeast Asian Section, which is moving forward with logistics that include registering as a Volunteer Welfare Organisation and establishing a website, etc.
Board Member Nuri Gras Rebolledo is reviewing efforts to revitalize AOAC’s Latin America-Caribbean Section following a virtual meeting where a plan was set to survey regional stakeholders and create a formal structure. A survey was sent to 1,195 people from LATAM and the Caribbean. Ninety-nine percent of respondents indicated they want to participate as a member of the Section. In a followup survey, 78 percent indicated they are interested in participating in operation of the Section. Dr. Robolledo also received many inquiries from survey recipients on how to join AOAC and get involved. President Crowley noted that the Board will be working with AOAC’s Membership manager on implemeinting a user-friendly process to meet this demand.
Darryl Sullivan is updating us on international engagement, specifically Codex CCMAS and CCNFSDU review and hopeful endorsement of AOAC methods for infant formula. Other interesting activities with Codex include discussing determination of sweetness. There is considerable interest in this but currently there are no established reference methods. There will also potentially be discussions of Nitrogen to Protein conversion factors.
AOAC has been working towards a joint standard for Vitamin C with the China GB standards development process. The working group is co-chaired by US and China and in February a draft SMPR was completed for determination of vitamin C in all forms of infant formula as well as baby foods, nutritional supplements for mothers, and more.
AOAC’s Palmer Orlandi is reviewing new international collaborations on the horizon. These include a MOU signed between AOAC and ARSO, the African Organisation for Standardization. Conversations are now turning to where we start.
Dawn Frazier is reviewing AOAC’s 17 stakeholder Communities. In February, AOAC held training for community leaders on the LinkedIn groups for these communities. In March, in a call with the Contaminants Community, it was decided to transition subgroups to their own communities. President Crowley “highly recommends that people join the LinkedIn communities, ask questions, and get the conversation going.”
AOAC Board of Directors meeting
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Introduction, revenue, and program updates
AOAC INTERNATIONAL President Erin Crowley has just kicked off the Board of Directors meeting and the group has approved the agenda.
Immediate Past President Henry Chen has just announced that John DeVries will be the third recipient of the coveted William Horwitz Award.
We are hearing from AOAC’s Finance Committee, which reports that AOAC’s financial position is strong. Finance Committee chair Mary Kay Krogull is discussing recommendations for funding of the employee retirement plan. The proposal on these recommendations has been passed by the Board.
AOAC Executive Director David Schmidt is reviewing the 2021 Business Plan that includes launching at least five new programs including Gluten & Food Allergens, Vet Drugs Regional Matrices in India, and Glyphosate. AOAC will also be sustaining and augmenting funding levels for current programs including CASP, Food Authenticity, SPADA, and SPIFAN (which he calls “a real juggernaut”). He is highlighting the Program Advisory Panels – companies whose support makes these and other AOAC programs possible. AOAC will also be expanding its Proficiency Testing Program to include Listeria swabbing, a hemp PT program, getting back into international programs including Brazil and Mexico. AOAC is conducting a feasibility study for implementing a quality training program and are in the final stages of developing a salmonella/chocolate program. The Research Institute is launching a new “Reviewed and Recognized” (R2) program to be launched later this year. This will review and certify method applications notes. AOAC has also signed an MOU with ARSO and is in discussions with other organizations including UNICEF and AOAC’s China Section.
On membership, Schmidt reports that despite the pandemic, individual membership only decreased slightly (.004%) and Organizational Membership is up 1.85%. AOAC is also increasing mentorship and refining marketing strategies. Moving forward, we will be pivoting between live/hybrid/virtual events based on the status of the pandemic. The 2021 Midyear Meeting, having shifted to virtual, is showing a record attendance.
Schmidt is reviewing 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 potential 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.
President Crowley has expressed her excitement at the “momentum we have gained in this first quarter.”
AOAC Chief Science Officer Palmer Orlandi is now updating the Board on AOAC’s core programs: SPIFAN, Food Authenticity, CASP, Rosins, Color Additives, and Gluten and Food Allergens. These programs have all made great progress in developing SMPRs, Calls for Methods, and many training webinars. “All these webinars were highly successful with an average attendance in the mid-200s.” The Gluten and Food Allergens program is being officially launched in 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.
Dr. Orlandi is describing 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 has reviewed the many New Initiatives in the works as well.
Executive Director David Schmidt and Communications and Membership Director Dawn Frazier are discussion the outlook for future meetings. The Annual Meeting in Boston is planned as in-person, but AOAC is examining options for a hybrid format.
Frazier reports that registration for this Midyear Meeting is currently at 302 which is a record, beating out 2019 with 269 registrations. For the Annual Meeting, AOAC will be gathering input from stakeholders on the best format. Decisions will be confirmed at the June Board of Directors meeting but it is clear that the virtual format allows greater participation.
AOAC INTERNATIONAL brings together government, industry, and academia to establish standard methods of analysis that ensure the safety and integrity of foods and other products that impact public health around the world.
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