Conference Report 2018

Conference Report 2018
February 22, 2018 No Comments 5th Annual Conference 2018 Saurabh Arora

AOAC India Section’s Annual Conference 2018: FSSAI-AOAC Partnerships in the Spotlight


AOAC India Section

New Delhi, March 2, 2018

Over 200 delegates from 4 continents attended the 5th Annual Conference of the AOAC- India Section in New Delhi, 28 February – 1 March, 2018.
 Key focus of this year’s conference was the official partnership established between The AOAC INTERNATIONAL and The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
A series of lectures by distinguished professionals discussed the recent trends and issues in inter-disciplinary food analysis.
It featured several interactive workshops to encourage the exchange of innovative ideas in the field of analytical chemistry and facilitate capacity building.
Organized in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK, the poster session upheld many scientific innovations by young researchers.

The 5th Annual Conference of the India Section of the AOAC INTERNATIONAL was held on February 28- March 1, 2018 in the historical city of New Delhi. This conference served as a crossroad for analytical chemists, regulatory authorities, entrepreneurs, industry consultants, university faculties and students, who are actively involved in various aspects of food chemistry and analytical sciences. Organized at The Park Hotel, over 200 delegates gathered to discuss the most important trends and issues in analytical sciences. In this two-day conference, the audience had the opportunity to attend the high quality technical lectures by celebrated authorities across the continents (Asia, USA, and Europe).

At the outset, Mr Pawan Agarwal, CEO, Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), in his keynote address, urged AOAC to provide a platform where the technology providers, scientists, and other stakeholders can connect and contribute to the best possible extent. He also expressed that AOAC can serve as a source of capacity building programs and help in developing a strong network of national reference laboratories within the country, covering various food commodities, and nutritional and food safety parameters.

This year’s conference witnessed a new partnership being signed between the FSSAI and AOAC INTERNATIONAL, enabling the public and private sectors to jointly drive progress on operational approaches to food safety culture, develop new pedagogical modules and expand capacity building of the nation. In her keynote speech, Ms. DeAnn Benesh, President, AOAC INTERNATIONAL, assured that the collaborative support will be extended to the FSSAI for developing the standards and methods of food analysis, and also organizing need-based trainings and capacity building projects.

In his Presidential address, Dr. Kaushik Banerjee apprised the audience about the Section’s significant milestones since the current Executive Committee took up the responsibility in Nov 2014. This included the completion of a collaborative study on Vitamin B12, research publications on novel analytical techniques in addition to its educational outreach programs.

In his inaugural lecture, Dr. Erik Konings, the past President-AOAC INTERNATIONAL, enlightened the delegates about the excerpts and provisions of the FSSAI-AOAC MoU. While indicating the challenges that the FSSAI Scientific Panel and EIC have been facing for years, Dr. S.K. Saxena, Director, Export Inspection Council (EIC), insisted that the AOAC should support the endeavors in finding the fit-for-purpose analytical methods and implementation of those methods in the Indian laboratories. Written by Dr. Lalitha Gowda, Chief Scientist (retired), CSIR-CFTRI and member-FSSAI Scientific Committee, “A Handbook for Food Analysis”, which signifies the best practices in regulatory testing, was also released in this inaugural program. This was followed by unveiling the exhibition and poster session by the CEO-FSSAI.

This year’s conference was a perfect venue for sharing and developing knowledge through its four technical sessions, namely “Testing Strategies in the Modern Neutraceuticals Industry”, “Multi-class Multiresidue Methods for the Residue Analysis of Veterinary Drugs”, “Food Fraud and Adulterations”, and “Advances in Detection of Microbiological Contaminants and Food Adulterants”.
While chairing the first technical session, Dr. N. Bhaskar, Advisor (QA)-FSSAI highlighted the significance of reliable validated methods, and their implementation in food testing through appropriate instrumentation techniques and trained human resources. Chaired by Ms. Benesh, there was an unprecedented session on microbiological analysis in the conference. It also comprised three Working Group discussion forums, focusing on tolerances for nutritional declaration on food and food supplements, rapid microbiological methods and Ensuring quality of food supplements containing botanicals.
A parallel session that was coordinated by Mr. Vishal Arora, Secretary-AOAC-India, and Dr. Saurabh Arora, Treasurer-AOAC-India had deliberations on several need-of-the-hour topics: “How to set up a basic food testing laboratory?”, “Food testing solutions- choosing the right technology”, and “Capacity building of the laboratories up to ISO 17025 accreditation”. The session also included a talk titled as “Navigating to the new ISO/IEC 17025: 2017” by Mr. N. Venkateswaran, Director-NABL, in which he presented a comparative account of this ISO standard against its previous version, viz., ISO/IEC 17025: 2005.
An interesting panel discussion that centered on the need for capacity building of students was coordinated by Mr. S. Dave, Ex-Chairman-Codex Alimentarius Commission. In this session, the dialogues between the panelists and the student communities indicated a strong need for topical curricula, blending academia with industry. When summing up the session, Mr. Dave suggested that there is also a need for exposing students to the latest analytical methodologies from regulatory perspectives.

Organized in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK, every year the poster session recognizes innovations and offers a platform for exhibitors to showcase their scientific advancements. From food safety to food authenticity, metabolomics to mycotoxin control study, plant-based natural products to neutraceutical analysis, juries viewed diverse types of topics and selected finalists out of a diverse pool of submissions. In the award ceremony, six researchers received the “Best Poster Awards” at the hands of Mr. N. Venkateswaran, Director-NABL. Dr. Anoop Krishnan received this year’s “Young Scientist Award” for his outstanding contributions in serving the Indian analytical community.

In the valedictory function, Dr. Banerjee mentioned about the constitution of the new Board of Directors of the Section to comply with the law of the land, as well as about the expansion of the EC through inclusion of new members for facilitating scientific affairs, training, and communications.

Dr. Ranjan Mitra, the incoming new President, while presenting the “Future Roadmap” of the Section, mentioned: “Our Section will continue to help students and ambitious young professionals network with a wide range of industry experts and provide a platform where they can learn and ask questions to help them figure out what they want to do for their future careers and how to take it to the next level”. “This Section will also support organizations to set-up food testing laboratories”, added he.

In his valedictory note, Dr Konings reflected upon how the AOAC-India section can facilitate harmonization and alignment of the analytical methods to comply with the regulations and analytical quality control standards. He further summarized the salient features of the conference, and informed the audience how AOAC’s global network and expertise can be utilized in establishing a strong network of NRLs in India, along with updating the FSSAI method manuals. Besides, he appreciated the idea of Dr Bhaskar for his recommendation that the AOAC India Section should come forward in building up the nation’s analytical competence and take a lead role in launching certification courses in food analysis.

With case study presentations, illuminating technical sessions, working group discussions, poster presentations, and peer-to-peer conversations, this conference provided a wide range of application-oriented solutions to real world problems for the analytical and food science communities.

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