At its annual meeting, AOAC International has set a stage for food scientists, testing suppliers, and brand owners like Pepsico and Kraft Foods to tackle crucial topics.
The AOAC Annual Meeting and Exposition (in Chicago this week) welcomes professionals honed in on food safety and quality issues. Those in attendance include public officials from agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration ; testing technology suppliers like PerkinElmer ; food and beverage firms, such as Pepsico ; and researchers from well-respected institutions.
All these parties gather together to mull over issues that impact the food and pharmaceutical industries. Sessions cover topics ranging from the latest food testing methods, to screening for gluten and other allergens, to predicting chemicals that could become a public concern down the road.
Garlon Riegler, senior director of membership and administration for AOAC International, told FoodProductionDaily.com that those at the AOAC are doing important work for the food industry.
“These meetings are important because they help further international trade and food safety,” he said. “These are issues that really matter to the food industry; otherwise, nobody would bring them up.”
In addition to scientific discussions on food safety standards and testing methods, the meeting offers government representatives a chance to collect and provide input. Input from food manufacturers, Riegler said, also is vital to the process.
“Food companies have more at stake than the government,” he said. “They’ve got profit and loss, bad publicity and their reputation to worry about.”
One role AOAC members play is to help clears away barriers (such as widely varying safety standards, or unreasonable regulations) for food companies to get their products launched and distributed effectively. Also, Riegler said, discussing the issues in the forum of the AOAC annual meeting helps food industry members keep on top of potential hot-button issues.
“You don’t need to have something blasted in the headlines of the Chicago Tribune,” he said.
A big reason why AOAC discussion carries weight is because the organization offers food professionals and government agencies an unbiased, effective way to attain solutions to perplexing challenges.
“We’re completely independent; we just help come up with the processes,” he said. “We don’t have a dog in the fight.”
Another reason: AOAC decisions are informed by hundreds of scientists specializing in food-related fields.
“When so many worldwide expert scientists say, ‘This is the way things ought to be,’ It’s tough to refute that,” he said.
AOAC International is a third-party, not-for profit association, geared toward attaining voluntary consensus standards. The goal of its 3,000+ members is to find science-based solutions to problems in the food/beverage industry, dietary supplement business, animal feed and others.