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Ozone Inactivation of Norovirus Surrogates on Fresh Produce

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Preharvest contamination of produce by foodborne viruses can occur through a variety of agents, including animal feces/manures, soil, irrigation water, animals, and human handling. Problems of contamination are magnified by potential countrywide distribution. Postharvest processing of produce can involve spraying, washing, or immersion into water with disinfectants; however, disinfectants, including chlorine, have varying effects on viruses and harmful by-products pose a concern. The use of ozone as a disinfectant in produce washes has shown great promise for bacterial pathogens, but limited research exists on its efficacy on viruses. This study compares ozone inactivation of human norovirus surrogates (feline calicivirus [FCV] and murine norovirus [MNV]) on produce (green onions and lettuce) and in sterile water. Green onions and lettuce inoculated with FCV or MNV were treated with ozone (6.25 ppm) for 0.5- to 10-min time intervals. Infectivity was determined by 50% tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50) and plaque assay for FCV and MNV, respectively. After 5 min of ozone treatment, >6 log TCID50/ml of FCV was inactivated in water and ∼2-log TCID50/ml on lettuce and green onions. MNV inoculated onto green onions and lettuce showed a >2-log reduction after 1 min of ozone treatment. The food matrix played the largest role in protection against ozone inactivation. These results indicate that ozone is an alternative method to reduce viral contamination on the surface of fresh produce.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19711, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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