AOAC International is a non-profit scientific association with headquarters in Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA. It publishes standardised, chemical analysis methods designed to increase confidence in results of chemical and microbiologic analyses. Government agencies and civil organisations often require that laboratories use official AOAC methods.
AOAC International, informally the AOAC, was founded September 8, 1884 as the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists, by the United States Department of Agriculture, to establish uniform chemical analysis methods for analysing fertilizers; membership was limited to government analytical chemists until 1987, afterwards, membership was extended to industrial scientists. In 1965, the AOAC’s name changed to Association of Official Analytical Chemists to accurately reflect its scope beyond agriculture. In 1991, it was renamed AOAC International, which, officially, is not an acronym, despite the AOAC website’s encouraging readers to interpret AOAC as an Association of Analytical Communities. The AOAC’s publications center upon comprehensive analysis methods, including AOAC Methods of Analysis (1885, 49pp.), Official and Provisional Methods of Analysis of the AOAC (1912), and the monthly Journal of the AOAC, currently its principal periodical, subscribed to by university and industry technical libraries and by members of the AOAC.
AOAC International’s technical contributions center on the creation, validation, and global publication of reliable analytical test methods, primarily to evaluate the safety of foods, beverages, dietary supplements, and similar materials consumed by humans and animals, or to evaluate purity of materials used in production of foodstuffs and their ingredients. These test methods are of two broad categories: chemical tests (e.g., for vitamins or pesticides) and microbiological tests (e.g., for spoilage agents or biological threat agents). Before a given method can be approved as an AOAC official method, it is generally tested in 8-10 laboratories in what is called a “Collaborative Study”, and the findings are often published on the Journal of AOAC Internationals. If the OMB (Official Methods Board) approves the recommendation of the Study Director and Committee Chair and approves the method for official status (an official method of analysis) then it is given “First Action” approval. During this time, members can comment of the method and provide feedback of issues or other comments regarding the method. After a year, the OMB can grant “Final Action” status to a method where there has been no feedback serious enough to warrant further investigation. These methods are recognized as official methods by the FDA and other agencies. Members gain free access to the OMA via the web. You can save any method or section as a PDF file for use offline or to print.
Possibly their most visible activity is to be official source for nutrition labeling analysis.
AOAC International has 10 North American sections, organized geographically, as well as 7 geographic sections in the rest of the world. AOAC International conducts one general meeting annually, which has always fallen in the same week in September for years. The meetings are moved around the United States and held in major cities. Moving the annual meeting to various regions benefits members that are not able to travel distances. It also helps share the cost of travel as some years a member has less travel expenses and a subsequent year the cost is higher.
Recently, the AOAC website and organization have undergone substantial changes. For members that have not stayed current in how the OMA process and organization structure are laid out, it would be prudent to visit the website and get updated on the new changes.