Scientific Opinion on an update on the present knowledge on the occurrence and control of foodborne viruses

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Article
Panel on Biological Hazards
EFSA Journal
EFSA Journal 2011;9(7):2190 [96 pp.].
doi
10.2903/j.efsa.2011.2190
Panel members at the time of adoption
Olivier Andreoletti, Herbert Budka, Sava Buncic, John D Collins, John Griffin, Tine Hald, Arie Hendric Havelaar, James Hope, Günter Klein, Kostas Koutsoumanis, James McLauchlin, Winy Messens, Christine Müller-Graf, Christophe, Nguyen-The, Birgit Noerrung, Luisa Peixe, Miguel Prieto Maradona, Antonia Ricci, John Sofos, John Threlfall, Ivar Vågsholm and Emmanuel Vanopdenbosch
Acknowledgements

The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on Foodborne viruses: Leen Baert, Albert Bosch, Nigel Cook, Soicick Le Guyader, Reimar Johne, Gunter Klein, Marion Koopmans, David Lees, Birgit Noerrung and Ana Maria de Roda Husman for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion, and EFSA staff: Ernesto Liebana for the support provided to this scientific opinion.

Type
Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel
On request from
EFSA
Question Number
EFSA-Q-2009-00877
Adopted
26 maggio 2011
Published in the EFSA Journal
14 luglio 2011
Affiliation
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
Note
Abstract

A review of the biology, epidemiology, diagnosis and public health importance of foodborne viruses was performed. Data needs to support a risk assessment were also identified. In addition possible control options and their anticipated impact to prevent or reduce the number of foodborne viral human infections were identified, including the scientific reasons for and against the establishment of food safety criteria and process hygiene criteria for viruses for certain food categories. Food may be contaminated by virus during all stages of the food supply chain, and transmission can occur by consumption of food contaminated during the production process (primary production, or during further processing), or contaminated by infected food handlers. Transmission of zoonotic viruses (e.g. HEV) can also occur by consumption of products of animal origin. Viruses do not multiply in foods, but may persist for extended periods of time as infectious particles in the environment, or in foods. At the EU-level it is unknown how much viral disease can be attributed to foodborne spread. The relative contribution of different sources (shellfish, fresh produce, food handler including asymptomatic shedders, food handling environment) to foodborne illness has not been determined. The Panel recommends focusing controls on preventive measures to avoid viral contamination rather than trying to remove/inactivate these viruses from food. Also, it is recommended to introduce a microbiological criteria for viruses in bivalve molluscs, unless they are labelled “to be cooked before consumption”. The criteria could be used by food business operators to validate their control options. Furthermore, it is recommended to refine the regulatory standards and monitoring approaches in order to improve public health protection. Introduction of virus microbiological criteria for classification of bivalve molluscs production areas should be considered. A virus monitoring programme for compliance with these criteria should be risk based according to the findings of a sanitary survey.

Keywords
Food borne viruses, Norovirus, Hepatitis, Microbiological criteria, molluscs, fresh produce
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Number of Pages
96