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AOAC's new community.

Food safety is a pressing issue for international standard organizations. Late last year, the AOAC announced the creation of the Chemical Contaminants and Residues in Food Community, chaired by Jo Marie Cook of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Stephen Capar of the FDA. The issues the Community addresses include the validation of new methods and the development of more sensitive and selective methods. IBO spoke with Dr. Cook about the Community's activities.

Among the Community's first efforts has been the formation of a subgroup on antibiotics in seafood. "We, the AOAC and members of the analytical community, approached the seafood industry and asked them if they would like to discuss their analytical needs. The objective is to talk to all the stakeholders and determine what methods are really needed the most and what those methods need to accomplish," she said. "[The antibiotics in seafood subgroup of the AOAC's Chemical Contaminants and Residues in Food Community] proposed that we should develop a multiresidue antibiotics screen. We were looking at that from a high-tech viewpoint, from doing LC/MS/ MS multiresidue for maybe 30 or 40 compounds in one screen," explained Dr. Cook. "I think that the seafood industry itself, at the production level, would find that to be too expensive and time consuming a test. What we're now looking at is the need to develop both the fast screens--multiplex is really coming online now--and to pair up multiplex-type testing with the confirmatory testing," she noted. "Regulatory labs might use a mass spectrometer (MS) or a tandem MS confirmation. We hope to pair those methods up and work closely with the regulatory community to establish related guidelines for safe seafood practices in production," she noted.

Another pressing food safety issue is pesticides. "The pesticides are a very, big issue in other countries, but not quite so much in the US. Antibiotics are becoming more important," Dr. Cook told IBO. The Chemical Contaminants and Residues in Food Community will have subcommittees for pesticides, minerals, antibiotics and possibly radioactivity. Mycotoxins already have an AOAC community.

Asked about trends in food safety testing, Dr. Cook discussed the acceptance of multiple methods. "We've moved away from having a specific method to do a specific analysis in a lot of cases. There was a big discussion at the European Pesticide Residue Workshop about 'did they want to standardize on one method?' No one really wanted to do that," she explained. "I think what you're seeing is a move towards performance-based methods. Laboratories might analyze samples by specific methods, but they have to be able to show that the method can perform at a particular level." This is an issue that the Community hopes to address. "That is really where the AOAC methods can be very useful because they demonstrate performance for these laboratories," she emphasized. The change has also encouraged a more efficient approach to testing. "That is why you see this trend toward large multianalyte screens because then you can validate and show performance for a whole screen, [such as] 50 to 100 compounds in one method,."

Screening for unknowns is also receiving more attention. "The newest concept with counterterrorism is looking at a sample that is a control and comparing it to your unknown and finding anything that shouldn't be there, that are different," Dr. Cook told IBO. "There's a lot of need in the analytical community for techniques that will allow you to simply do subtraction, that will allow you to look at your sample versus your control and find what is there that's different."

Dr. Cook also views the Community as vital for gathering input from different parties. "AOAC has become more than just a place where you're going to validate methods, where you're just going to go to find methods. What it is are doing now is brokering solutions.'
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Title Annotation:Executive Briefing: News & Views for Executives; AOAC International
Comment:AOAC's new community.(Executive Briefing: News & Views for Executives)(AOAC International )
Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 31, 2007
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