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Survival and Transfer of Murine Norovirus 1, a Surrogate for Human Noroviruses, during the Production Process of Deep-Frozen Onions and Spinach

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The reduction of murine norovirus 1 (MNV-1) on onions and spinach by washing was investigated as was the risk of contamination during the washing procedure. To decontaminate wash water, the industrial sanitizer peracetic acid (PAA) was added to the water, and the survival of MNV-1 was determined. In contrast to onions, spinach undergoes a heat treatment before freezing. Therefore, the resistance of MNV-1 to blanching of spinach was examined. MNV-1 genomic copies were detected with a real-time reverse transcription PCR assay in PAA-treated water and blanched spinach, and PFUs (representing infectious MNV-1 units) were determined with a plaque assay. A ≤1-log reduction in MNV-1 PFUs was achieved by washing onion bulbs and spinach leaves. More than 3 log PFU of MNV-1 was transmitted to onion bulbs and spinach leaves when these vegetables were washed in water containing approximately 5 log PFU/ml. No decline of MNV-1 occurred in used industrial spinach wash water after 6 days at room temperature. A concentration of 20 ppm of PAA in demineralized water (pH 4.13) and in potable water (pH 7.70) resulted in reductions of 2.88 ± 0.25 and 2.41 ± 0.18 log PFU, respectively, after 5 min of exposure, but no decrease in number of genomic copies was observed. No reduction of MNV-1 PFUs was observed on frozen onions or spinach during storage for 6 months. Blanching spinach (80°C for 1 min) resulted in at least 2.44-log reductions of infectious MNV-1, but many genomic copies were still present.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Safety and Food Quality, Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium 2: Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research, Technology and Food Unit, Brusselsesteenweg 370, 9090 Melle, Belgium

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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