Meeting Analytical Challenges in a Fast-Changing Environment

The Pacific Southwest Section held their Annual Meeting on February 17-18, 2016 at the Krutch Theater, Clark Kerr Campus, University of California Berkeley.

Looking at the challenges in the modern environment, the Executive committee organized four symposia designed to highlight the ones most likely to impact the Section members laboratories.

Day 1: Lab Managers

The keynote speaker, Dr. Henry Chin, highlighted “The Relationship between Scientific Literacy and Analytical Capability—The Implications for Analysts and Laboratory Managers.” Dr. Chin is a Guest Faculty Scholar at the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University. He retired in 2013 as Senior Director, Global Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at The Coca-Cola Company. Prior to joining Coca-Cola, he was with the National Food Processors Association (now the Grocery Manufacturers Association) for nearly 30 years, providing scientific and technical advice to most of the major food companies in the United States. Dr. Chin is a past President of AOAC INTERNATIONAL.

The following sessions covered the challenge to laboratories of implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and Laboratory Accreditation—ISO 17025 & ISO 17011. The lead speaker was Barbara Cassens, Senior Advisor and Acting Director for the Office of Partnerships in FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs. Ms. Cassens covered Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliance with “FDA’s Strategies for Gaining and Maintaining Compliance with the New Rules”. She was followed by Drs. John Szpylka, Bruce Godfrey and Peyman Fatemi who presented “Implementing FSMA in the Contract Laboratory” and “Implementing FSMA in the Microbiology Laboratory” respectively.

The afternoon concentrated on Accreditation. Chris Gunning, American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) began with “The Benefits of Accreditation Using Developed Standards” discussing the interrelationships between the various organizations that support international standards based laboratory accreditation. Christine Sotelo, Chief of California’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) discussed her experiences in attempting to bring California’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program to compliance with the ISO 17011 standard for accrediting bodies and assessing laboratories to ISO 17025 standard for laboratories. Dr. Susan Audino outlined “The regulatory/technical environment—the state mandates for accreditation”. And Doug Leonard, President, Laboratory Accreditation Bureau presented “Data, Standards, Principles and Accreditation” from the perspective of a nongovernmental third party accrediting body.

Day 2: novel matrices—the analytical challenges ahead

Dr. Syrago–Styliani (Sissy) Petropoulou, Cal EPA, Department of Toxic Substances Control, Environmental Chemistry Laboratory began by outlining the new mandate that her laboratory is working on—the California Safer Consumer Products Program (SCP). Meredith Williams, Deputy Director, California EPA, DTSC then presented “The role of analytical testing in implementing California’s Safer Consumer Program”. The SCP has a unique framework—it is important that consumers make informed decisions in the future. Analytical data will be the key for consumer’s and the department’s decisions. Dr. Martin Mulvilhill an advisor and researcher at the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry presented ways to find and promote the adaptation of safer chemicals in consumer products through his new venture SafeMade. He showed the possibilities for alternative safer chemicals in products and for the new generations of chemists. Dr. Paula Johnson, head of the California Safe Cosmetics Program at the Department of Public Health discussed the impetus for safer cosmetics legislation and the ways the industry avoids disclosing ingredients on products.

Tying back to AOAC International’s new Working Group Initiative, Hannah Crum—the driving force behind the Kombucha Brewers International—brought the Section the latest news from the AOAC Kombucha Working Group and an opportunity to taste the product as well!

One of the newest groups to bring their analytical needs to AOAC INTERNATIONAL is a consortium of cannabis analytical professionals headed by Dr. Susan Audino. This group presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles and the Executive Committee of the PSW found that there was a lot of Section interest in the topic. She opened the session with “Understanding cannabis and the challenges of cannabis testing laboratories”. Edibles are a particular analytical challenge that AOAC INTERNATIONAL has a century of expertise to offer and might be a good fit for the Association. A look at another aspect of the cannabis challenge was offered by Dr. Jahan Marcu who presented “Auditing Medical Cannabis Operations in the United States for Patient Focused Certification (PFC)”. Regulation is becoming mandatory in states that allow medical cannabis. The producers, manufacturers, dispensaries, and laboratories involved in this industry can operate legally in their states but many have functioned without much regulation or oversight. PFC is an international program, which audits cannabis operations for compliance with botanical safety and handling standards.

Technical Education

The technology providers stepped up to the plate to offer concrete answers to the laboratories seeking new methods for cannabis and cannabis edibles. Dr. Timothy D Ruppel, Sr. Field Application Scientist for PerkinElmer led the “Discussion on Laboratory Testing Requirements for Cannabis—Multiple Technologies”. With the focus on the analytical testing of the product to insure quality control and consumer safety he provided an overview including cannabinoid potency, terpenes, pesticides, heavy metals, and microbiological testing. Dr. Toby Astill, Senior Sales Specialist, also with PerkinElmer presented a “Determination of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Moisture in Dried Cannabis Buds by Mid-Infrared FTIR”. He showed how using FTIR and the Partial Least Squares algorithm models it is possible to accurately quantitate 7 cannabinoids, 21 terpenes, and moisture. Dr. John MacKay, Waters Corporation presented “A Walk in the “Woulds” on the Cannabis Trail: Rediscovering Pharmacognosy without the Bare Necessities”. Offering a concrete solution to the knotty problem of edibles analysis, Melissa Wilcox, Grace Materials Technologies, Discovery Sciences—“Edibles Prep Using Flash Column Chromatography”.

Technical education in instrumental analysis was provided throughout the two day program by our sponsors. Dr. Katherine Hyland (Sciex Corporation) detailed “The Analysis of Pesticides, Cannabinoids and Terpenes in Plant and Edible Matrices”. Dr. Philip Koerner (Phenomenex) discussed an “Alternative Approach to Ion Pairing Chromatography LCMS for Food Testing”. In response to the call for new methods as a part of the California Safer Consumer Products Program, Patricia Atkins, Product Application Scientist, SPEX CertiPrep “Sample Preparation and Analysis of Children’s Toys for BPA”. And Dr. Craig Marvin, Agilent presented “Consumer goods: Monitoring chemical contaminants of environmental concern”.

Both Chemistry and Microbiology were woven into the program. Matt DeWitt, Account Manager, bioMérieux, Inc. rounded out the first day with “GENE-UP Real Time PCR System”. And later in the program, Dr. Timothy S. Wheeler, Ph.D., Senior Marketing Manager bioMérieux presented the “Microbiology of Cannabis”.

Networking Opportunities

As always, the Section meeting provided an opportunity to Section members to network with other professionals in their area of interest. In addition to the breaks offered in the vendor exhibit area, the Section put on the ever popular President’s Reception. The venue chosen this year, the Clark Kerr Campus and UC Berkeley in general provided a welcome, collegial atmosphere for the open exchange of ideas. It is a sure bet that the Pacific Southwest Section will meet in Berkeley again, and soon.


Barbara Cassens
Christine Sotelo
Hannah Crum
Henry Chiin
Jahan Marcu Headshot
KC Hyland Sciex
Krutch Theater 2016
Meredith Williams, CA EPA
Peyman Fatemi
President_s Reception 2016