AOAC’s Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program helps labs compete in the global marketplace by demonstrating that through participation they meet the highest international standards for accuracy, reliability, and compliance.

AOAC’s A2LA accredited proficiency testing (PT) sets the quality standard for analytical laboratories, with:

  • Independent assessment of your lab’s data accuracy and reliability 
  • Comprehensive testing programs offering a wide array of analytes and matrices
  • High quality, homogeneous, stable testing samples that arrive ready to analyze, like routine samples
  • Confidential and secure PT website to enter data and access historical data and reports
  • State-of-the art, detailed automated reporting
  • Responsive technical support
  • Access to international quality experts

For select microbiology programs, labs can report up to four sets of results, which means up to four technicians and/ or methodologies can be reported for the same organism.

Programs

Program Process

  1. You choose the specific programs that meet your lab’s needs. AOAC ships samples for each program quarterly or three times yearly (see the Program Schedule for details). You can participate on an annual basis or enroll in shipments as your lab requires. You must enroll at least 30 days prior to your first shipment.
  2. For most programs, labs have two weeks to complete their analyses and submit results. P01 Pesticide Residue and IFO1 Vitamins and Nutrients in Infant Formula participants have 30 days to complete analyses and submit results. Participants receive unique login credentials and submit their results using the secure PT website.
  3. Labs can assign up to four individuals to review reports through the PT website.
  4. AOAC provides certificates to participating labs after they complete a round of testing.

Microbiology Programs

Standard Microbiology Programs 

The Standard Microbiology Program was developed for laboratories that operate in the area of food safety. This program helps laboratories prove proficiency in detection of pathogens (including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Listeria), as well as quantifying aerobic organisms, coliforms, E. coli, Coagulase Positive Staphylococcus, yeast and mold, Bacillus cereus, and Enterobacteriaceae. The program offers eight test samples-four qualitative and four quantitative. Additionally, participants have the option of reporting and being evaluated on O and H antigens for Salmonella and identifying Listeria species. A laboratory may perform as many or as few analyses among the tests listed above. This program is also available without E. coli O157:H7 (M08) and without E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria (M09).

Pathogen-Free Microbiology Program 

For laboratories that do not routinely test for pathogens, AOAC offers the Pathogen-Free Program, which offers an opportunity to participate in a microbiology program without bringing potentially hazardous pathogens into the laboratory. The program includes four samples of mashed potatoes for quantitative determination of coliform, E. coli, yeast and mold, and aerobic plate count. A laboratory may perform as many or as few analyses among the tests listed above. 

Meat Microbiology Programs

Foodborne pathogens pose a serious problem in the United States. Annually five million illnesses and four thousand deaths are attributed to meat and poultry products. And, because outbreaks of Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7, and Salmonella are making headlines, many companies are eager to prove the safety of their foods. With the increased public concern surrounding foodborne pathogens, laboratories are under considerable pressure to provide detailed analyses in a host of meat related areas. To address these requirements, AOAC offers three modules within its Meat Microbiology Program. The first (M03) provides 10 ground meat samples to determine different Salmonella. The second (M04) provides 10 ground meat samples to test the presence of absence of E. coli O157:H7. Finally, laboratories may choose a module (M05) which includes 12 processed meat samples, that determines the presence or absence of Listeria monocytogenes.

In addition, for those laboratories that wish to analyze all three pathogens or two pathogens in a meat matrix, AOAC offers two combination pathogen programs in a meat matrix (M10 and M12). The first Combination Pathogen Program (M10) offers participating laboratories the opportunity to test for Salmonella species in a ground meat matrix (four samples), E. coli O157:H7 in a ground meat matrix (four samples), and Listeria monocytogenes in a processed meat matrix (four samples). Now AOAC offers a second combination program, Combination Pathogen Program without E. coli O157: H7 (M12), for laboratories testing for Salmonella species in a ground meat matrix (four samples) and Listeria monocytogenes in a processed meat matrix (four samples). 

Salmonella in Liquid Egg 

This qualitative program consists of five Salmonella in Liquid Egg samples. This program allows the participant to report present or absence of Salmonella and also provides the opportunity to report the O and H antigens.

Chemistry Programs

Food Chemistry for Nutrient Programs 

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for nutrition labeling demand food chemistry panels adhere to strict federal guidelines. AOAC offers proficiency testing programs for both meats (C01) and cheese (C02) chemistry with two samples per shipment. Each program offers analysis of protein, moisture, fat, salt, ash, carbohydrate, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, calories and pH*. In addition, the C01 Meat Chemistry Program offers analysis of nitrite*, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and trans fatty acids. The C02 Cheese Chemistry program also offers analysis of lactose*, galactose*, phosphorus, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, trans fatty acids, and pH*.

* These analytes are currently not included in the AOAC INTERNATIONAL Proficiency Testing Programs scope of accreditation.

Pesticide Residues in Fruits and Vegetables Program 

In an effort to meet the needs of the analytical laboratory community, AOAC added the Pesticide Residues in Fruits and Vegetables Program. Laboratories participating in the program can test for an extensive array of pesticide residues in a fruit and vegetable matrix (P01). The list of pesticide residues tested in the program was developed after an extensive survey of international needs and interests. Countries participating in the survey included the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Australia. The Pesticide Residues in Fruits and Vegetables Program features: 56 possible chemicals, Three shipments of testing materials per year, three test samples per shipment, and a fruit and vegetable matrix. The analyses deadline is 30 days. To assist analytical laboratories in tailoring the program to fit their specific needs, laboratories are asked to provide a listing of those residues that they will be testing. Participants are only evaluated for these specific residues and the report provided will clearly identify these pesticides. 

Vitamins and Nutrients in Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals Program

This program includes Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid (B5), Vitamin C, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, D2, D3, Vitamin E,
Vitamin K, Fatty Acids, Iodine, Myo‐inositol, Nucleotides, Ultratrace Minerals (Chromium, Selenium, Molybdenum). Participants can test for as many or as few nutrients as they wish. The analyses deadline is 30 days.

Enrollment

Enrollment Requirements

Your lab can enroll in any program at any time and you will receive the next shipment of samples for the program you choose. You must enroll 30 days prior to the next shipment.

You may enroll for a year or select as many shipments as you require by completing the partial enrollment form or contacting AOAC at least 30 days prior to shipment of the samples you need.

Multiple Lab Discounts

AOAC provides discounts on samples (but not the shipping prices). Companies receive:

  • A 5% discount on samples when enrolling in 5-9 programs
  • A 10% discount on samples when enrolling in 10 or more programs

International Participation

AOAC can ship samples to most of North America, Central America, South America, Europe, and some regions of Asia. Labs in other international locations need to hire an independent broker and should contact AOAC to determine country regulations on importing “dangerous goods”. Some program samples include pathogens that are considered dangerous goods.

Enrollment Reminders

1. Complete all sections of the enrollment form; incomplete information may delay your enrollment.

  • For each program, select your program start date (check the box next to the start month/date. See the Enrollment Deadlines to ensure your enrollment will be accepted for the selected start date).
  • Labs located outside of the continental U.S. must first contact AOAC to verify that we can ship to their location.
  • Be sure to read and initial each billing policy and provide primary contact information and the shipping address for samples. The primary contact receives emails about sample shipments, testing results and program renewals.
  • Provide complete billing Information and the billing contact, and a purchase order and/or payment information.

2. AOAC will email a confirmation with your program information and participant login.

Program Highlights

AOAC offers an expanding array of testing to meet your quality assurance needs:

  • Standard Microbiology Programs
  • Pathogen-Free Microbiology Programs
  • Meat Microbiology Programs
  • Salmonella in Liquid Egg
  • Food Chemistry for Nutrients Program
  • Pesticide Residues in Fruits and Vegetables Program
  • Vitamins and Nutrients in Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals