There is an increasing number of alerts and reported outbreaks of foodborne viruses in foods. Viruses mostly associated with viral foodborne illnesses and outbreaks are Norovirus (NoV) and Hepatitis A virus (HAV).
Noroviruses have been recognized in Europe as a leading cause of foodborne gastroenteritis over the last decade. HAV causes very severe inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). However, HAV is prevailing in endemic countries outside Europa. It should be taken into consideration when importing food products originating from these countries. The WHO provides a map with an overview of the estimated Hepatitis A virus prevalence.
Major contamination routes are person-to-person or person-to-food (during picking, preparation of food) and contaminated water (e.g. applied as irrigation water, washing water, to dilute pesticides or cultivation water).
A broad range of foods have been implicated in NoV/HAV foodborne outbreaks:
- shellfish (e.g. oysters, mussels), crustaceans and their products;
- fruits - mainly berries - and vegetables (fresh and frozen);
- unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices;
- ready-to-eat food such as sandwiches.
There is actually no European legislation in place for Norovirus and Hepatitis A virus in fresh produce. However there are scientific opinions made by EFSA.
NoV/HAV detection is still difficult and hampered by several limitations. Unlike most foodborne bacteria, viruses cannot grow in the environment since they need specific host cells to replicate. In general, the strategy for detection of foodborne viruses in food samples consists of 3 steps.
For the samples, we talk mainly about fresh produce and fruits and about processed fruits and vegetables.
Primoris is officially accredited for norovirus and hepatite A viruses. The accreditation certificate can be consulted on this website.
Proficiency tests, independent controls of a laboratory’s analysis quality, are part of Primoris’ everyday operation. Primoris takes part in proficiency tests organised by reputable institutions in the context of European monitoring, internal quality assurance and approvals and certifications.
Due to the Belgian National Holiday, Primoris Belgium is closed on Tuesday 21 July. We will also be using this holiday to execute some preventive maintenance of our system infrastructure. These maintenance activities are crucial to keep supporting you in the future on the highest reliability level.
UPDATE 15 June 2020 | Today Monday 15 June Belgium is in phase 3 of the exit strategy out of the corona crisis, including a reopening of restaurants, bars and other societal activities, always with respect for social distancing.This phase has no influence on our activities, because Primoris has remained operational during the entire corona crisis to assure food safety on a daily basis.
As from now on, Primoris is also your partner for high quality and accredited analyses on 3-MCPD, 2-MCPD and glycidyl esters (GE) in vegetable oils and fats.