In 1885 Harvey W. Wiley, a founder of the Association and its president and secretary, oversaw the publication of the AOAC Methods of Analysis, a 49-page bulletin describing the analysis of fertilizers. In 1887, the Association included methods for feeds and dairy products. Despite (1) the change in emphasis from economics to safety, health, and biological/terrorist concerns; (2) the shift from classicalstoichiometric- and proximate-based chemistry to calibration chemistry; (3) the needs of governments and the demands of globalized trade for speed and specificity in the methods used, the principle enunciated in the original publication remains the same: procedures are vetted by rigorous studies and evaluation by experts.
Because experience shows they are fit for use, the 19th Edition retains traditional methods and offers new ones utilizing stoichiometric and proximate measurements. Where new information-much of it from the questions or comments of users-suggests that safety or environmental concerns require changes, those changes have been made. Updating or validating these traditional methods, which use "quaint measurement techniques," is not wasted effort; they are still used by laboratories around the world.
More than ever, methods in the 19th Edition emphasize quality control features, system suitability specifications, and internal controls that provide the analyst with guides to proper performance.
Traditionally AOAC validated methods through interlaboratory studies. To modernize the Official Methods of AnalysisSM (OMA), the Association developed a new alternative pathway of adopting First Action methods. The 19th Edition includes methods approved using AOAC's voluntary consensus standards process, rather than the collaborative study. In this system, expert review panels (ERPs) evaluate candidate methods against standard method performance requirements (SMPRs) developed by consensus of stakeholder panels and their working groups. Methods which meet a given set of SMPRs can be granted First Action Official MethodSM status by an ERP. After 2 years, the ERP reexamines a method, and any new information, to ensure that, in practice, it continues to meet the SMPRs. If it does, then the method is recommended by the ERP for Final Action status, which is granted by the Official Methods Board.
The 19th Edition reflects AOAC's standards development activities in the areas of infant formula, food, biothreat detection, and veterinary drug residues, and features a number of First Action methods and guidelines. The Association has experienced significant changes during the past few years, and much of the new content in the OMA reflects these changes to better and faster meet the needs of our members and customers.
The technical value of AOAC Official MethodsSM is immense. AOAC continues to receive questions, showing that the methods are being used and are relevant to the analytical communities. Member questions and comments about Official MethodsSM can be directed to AOAC INTERNATIONAL at firstname.lastname@example.org. The questions and responses serve several editorial purposes, e.g., to help correct errors and to clarify instructions. If the OMA is to be a user benefit, then we all have a vested interest in making it the very best product possible. Together, we can do that.
—Dr. George W. Latimer, Jr.