Control of viruses in food production
Virus related foodborne illness is becoming a major issue, as highlighted by the recent outbreak of hepatitis A (Hep A) in Italy and in the United States. Epidemiological data shows that norovirus (NoV) is a large cause of infectious intestinal disease throughout the world. Over the last 10 years there has been a significant increase in the number of reported cases in England and Wales, with nearly 11,000 recorded in 2012.
The route of NoV infection is known to be through either person-to-person spread or the consumption of contaminated food, although the percentage contribution of these two vectors in outbreaks is not always proven. Evidence has shown, however, that large outbreaks of NoV have occurred due to contaminated foods (e.g. raspberries, strawberries). The control of food borne viruses is a growing area of concern for the industry, and at present there is limited information available of direct relevance to foods. Of particular importance is the understanding of the survival and persistence of food borne viruses on foods and in the environment, as well as the assessment/validation of antimicrobial treatments.