Foodborne viruses

Foodborne viruses – the known unknowns

By Suzanne Jordan - 26 October 2015

While the microbiological hazards posed by Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter and E.coli in food are well known, we’ve become increasingly aware of a very different group of food pathogens – viruses. While they cannot grow in or on foods, viruses are carried on foods.

The UK Government's Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) suggests that the most important viruses associated with foodborne infection are Norovirus, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E.

Viruses have been reported to be fairly resistant to a number of control measures. However, since the methods used to detect foodborne viruses are based on detecting part of their viral genome (virus RNA), which may remain detectable after the virus is rendered non-infective, it makes it difficult to establish whether virus that is present is active or inactive.

Add to that the fact viruses cannot easily be cultured outside of their host cells and it won't come as a surprise that there is little knowledge about the presence of infective viruses in food and even less information on how to treat those foods to render any viruses non-infective.

In response to these challenges, we have started a project to research into the control of viruses in food production. The project, which will last three years, will help us to determine the efficacy of potential virucidal treatments such as fogging, pulsed light, pressure and heat, and establish the infectivity of foodborne viruses after exposure to these control measures.

Suzanne Jordan
+44(0)1386 842013

About Suzanne Jordan

Suzanne has worked here at Campden BRI since 2005, following nine years of PhD and postdoctoral research experience in food microbiology and molecular biology of food microorganisms.

Suzanne is the lead for third party microbiological method validation studies for AOAC, MicroVal and NordVal, is a Retailer-approved Method Review Co-ordinator, and is involved in several research and contract projects for developing and evaluating new methodology. Alongside this, she is an industrial PhD supervisor for a project on the of fine-tuning dietary fibre to target gut microbiota accessibility.

During her career to date she has participated in multidisciplinary research projects involving European partners, developed expertise in a range of molecular techniques, and presented her research at an international level and in peer-reviewed journals.

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