The 121st AOAC Conference

AOAC International held its annual meeting and exposition from September 16 to 20 at the Hyatt Regency in Anaheim, California. The meeting’s return to California after a five-year absence appeared to have increased attendance. The AOAC reported 845 registered attendees, up from just over 800 last year, including about 230 international attendees. A number of presentations addressed the use of LC/MS and LC/MS/MS in food analysis. Two of the talks that IBO attended discussed the use of immunoaffinity methods for sample preparation for the analysis of food allergens. In a talk entitled “Immunoaffinity Extraction and 18O Labeling of Allergens in Dark Chocolate,” Kevin Shefcheck of the FDA’s Center for Food and Safety and Applied Nutrition discussed the use of magnetic beads to extract casein proteins, noting that immunoaffinity methods provide a simple, fast and multiplexed solution. The laboratory’s own 18O internal labeling provided an inexpensive semiquantitative internal standard. A presentation by Michael Abbott of Health Canada described the use of LC/MS/MS to detect various potential allergens. In testing granola bars for various nuts using ELISA methods and LC/MS/MS, he reported mixed results and noted that his lab has future plans to use immunoaffinity methods for clean up. Multiplexing and standards were topics touched on by a number of presenters. In discussing new approaches to allergen detection, Carmen Westpha of the FDA talked about the use of allergen-specific Immunoglobulin microarrays. For allergens, such microarrays are capable of diagnosis, epitope mapping and cytokine profiling. However, many of the traditional problems remain with multiplexed approaches, including issues with sample extraction buffers, validation, reference materials and reporting units, as well as the availability of reagents. Catherine Simoneau of the European Commission Joint Research Commission’s Institute for Health and Consumer Protection gave a fascinating talk on testing for food contact materials. She discussed the numerous types of chemical migration that can occur in food preparation, packaging and storage. Potentially contaminating substances include ingredients in the formulation of the packaging, such as monomers and solvents, and reaction and breakdown products of these ingredients. She emphasized the need for harmonized methods, reference materials and proficiency testing. In fact, reference materials, method validation and laboratory proficiency testing were each the subject of a symposium during the conference. Sixty-one companies exhibited products. Many vendors reported good foot traffic on Sunday and Monday mornings, but said that it tapered off Monday afternoon and Tuesday. All major MS companies were on hand, as were companies well known to the food industry, such as CEM, FOSS and LECO. Chromatography column suppliers Pickering Laboratories, Restek and Shodex also exhibited. Representing biological-based approaches were eGene (QIAGEN) and Biacore (GE Healthcare). Exhibiting for the first were eGene, Lab Synergy, Rocky Mountain Diagnostics and Shodex. Next year’s AOAC meeting will be held September 21–25, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas.

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