Foodborne virus research From February 2020

Foodborne viruses: detection and control

According to the World Health Organisation, every year one in 10 people succumb to a foodborne disease. The number one cause? Viruses.

Foodborne viruses are a safety challenge for a range of foods, including ready-to-eat products, fresh produce, bivalve shellfish and pork products. The three main culprits are Norovirus, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E. However, we can help you control these viruses in your foods by:

And now: environmental monitoring… for viruses?

Environmental monitoring of facilities is a well-established means of evaluating the general cleanliness of areas which are at the highest risk of pathogenic contamination. Swabbing of these areas, followed by enumeration on agar, is an effective method of detecting bacteria - but not for viruses. In fact, conventional swabbing techniques cannot detect any viruses, rendering them invisible to food business operators who use these methods. This is quite a concern considering they are the leading cause of foodborne illness.

One of our member-funded research projects has recently assessed and optimised a swabbing technique detailed in ISO15216 that detects Norovirus and Hepatitis A virus. We’ve established the most effective equipment that can be used with the ISO method allowing us to successfully detect either high or low levels of these viruses from two materials commonly used in the food and catering industry: stainless steel and polypropylene.

What does this mean for you?

We offer environmental monitoring of viruses as part of our virology services. The service allows you to build a profile of potential areas liable to virus contamination and helps you develop strategies to improve your food safety management plans, providing confidence that your cleaning regimes are effective. But this isn’t limited to factory process lines.

Restaurants, in particular chains, which have the same or similar layouts, can also benefit from this service. When high-risk areas have been identified and reduced (by, for example, more regular cleaning or using virus-destroying disinfectants), then these procedures can be rolled out to the other sites in that chain. This will create a safer environment to prepare food and protect customers and staff.

Contact: Support Team
+44(0)1386 842291

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