vendredi 21 juillet 2017

Foodborne Virus Recalls @ what cost?

Foodborne Virus Recalls @ what cost?
Worldwide, about 1 out of every 5 cases of acute gastroenteritis (diarrhea & vomiting illness) is caused by norovirus. Globally, norovirus is estimated to be the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis, indicates the CDC

Cost of Foodborne Illnesses
1.             Household Costs (Mortality, Medical care, Work loss, Pain and suffering, Caregiver)
2.             Food Industry Costs (Product recalls, Plant closing/cleanup, Product liability, Reputation costs, Administrative Costs, Costs from regulation)
3.             Public Health Sector (Disease surveillance, Outbreak response, Regulation, Consumer Information)
Number of food recalls and their costs to business & society are rising
Globally, the SwissRe report finds that demographic change is also exposing more sensitive consumer groups to the dangers of contaminated food. Ageing societies, an increase in allergies in the overall population and the fact that malnourishment as a source of weak body defences is still prevalent in many countries are significant drives for the increase in exposure. As an example, the number of recalls coordinated byFSANZ each year between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2016 averages 61 per annum, increasing slightly since 2014.
Underestimated time, effort and expense
Companies without a recall believe that the cost recovery process was a quick one and that they could recover most of their losses, indicates a report from GMA. Even companies with recall experience underestimated the time, effort and expense associated with the recovery efforts. Factors that point to more frequent and more comprehensive recalls in the future include: 
·                     Just-in-time global manufacturing
·                     Fewer suppliers and complex supply chains
·                     Improved product traceability and detection of food-borne illness
·                     Increasing regulatory authority and enforcement
Norovirus, $64 BILLION a YEAR
According to a study published in PLOS One in April 2016 norovirus cost globally $64 billion yearly in direct health system costs and societal.
Fruit Distributor and Processors
·                     Norovirus Recall : AUD 14 M
·                     Hepatitis A Virus Recall : USD 7.5 M
Oyster Producers : US$ 28 M cleaning
The discovery of the norovirus at Hammersley Inlet resulted in a recall of shellfish in April 2017. State officials said the norovirus could have gotten into the water as a result of failing septic systems, malfunctioning wastewater treatment plants, boat discharges or directly from an infected person, indicates the News Tribune
·                     Norovirus : 3-years of earning
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s food safety crisis cost the company three full years of earnings growth, according to J.P. Morgan analysts & Marketwatch. The July 2017 norovirus incident showed their stocks tumble.
·                     Hepatitis A Virus : US$25,000 to US$75,000
Four families with members became ill with hepatitis A Virus after eating at the restaurant; their claims resolved for high amounts.
Foodborne Pathogens Jury Verdicts 1979-2004
The success rate among plaintiffs that alleged illness from a specific pathogen was 44.8. By contrast, plaintiffs that did not implicate a specific pathogen were successful in only 27.1% of cases. The expected award when a specific pathogen was identified was also significantly higher (US$ 432,000 mean award) than in cases where the pathogen was unspecified. 
Over the period 23 Hepatitis Virus (A, B, C) = 4.49% [Rank 3rd] of the total & 4 norovirus = 0.78% of the total court awards were registered. With the increasing technology capacity, investigators will have more chance to determine the precise pathogens.
NOVI Product Recall Cost Estimator
A web-based service to estimate the cost of a recall incident
Anticipate to better prevent
"Companies must proactively implement supplier verification programs, preventative food processing control plans and environmental monitoring systems" says Seth Keller
For foodborne viruses specifically, an ISO 15216 Standard is now available (Publication March 2017) to ease the detection and identification of Norovirus and Hepatitis A Virus in food matrices (stoneless edible fruit, bivalve molluscs, bottled water, leafy greens, stems and bulbs, food surfaces).
Complete workflow for foodborne virus detection
Complete integrated solutions are available for industries and contract laboratories to implement and hence ensure a consistent, reliable monitoring and identification of foodborne viruses in food matrices from various origin.
A 2014 EFSA report, following a large EU hepatitis A Virus outbreak with edible stoneless fruits indicated : "Based on the findings of the investigation that HAV contamination could be occurring at the freezing processor or in primary production of berries, compliance with Good Hygiene Practice (GHP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) is recommended for countries producing berries for freezing."
Emerging risks such as foodborne viruses have to be taken into account by food businesses to minimize and prevent the risks. Upstream actions with producers and processors (GAP, GHP, GMP) should be implemented. Integrated in their HACCP plan, foodborne virus risk can be better managed and controled to protect the consumers, and anticipate financial loss.

Sources :

1.             GMA ONLINE
3.             PLOS One
4.             MARKETWATCH
5.             CDC
6.             SWISS RE
7.             News Australia
8.             Natlaw Review
9.             AIG
10.          Food Safety MxNs
11.          ISO
12.          bioMérieux Industry
13.          EFSA

lundi 5 juin 2017

NOV and HAV in Berries

Foodborne virus, Hepatitis A Virus and Norovirus, are often the source of large outbreaks associated with berries, from many origins. ECDC published in 2015 a historical perspective on Food-borne diseases associated with frozen berries consumption; The review revealed 32 independent events (i.e. outbreak, food contamination) in the period 1983–2013, of which 26 were reported after 2004.

Since then (2015/2016/2017), many other outbreaks occurred. The last 2017 Australian outbreak with berries imported reminds us of the importance of
  1. Good Agricultural Practice,
  2. Good Hygiene Practice
  3. Good Manufacturing Practice
and adapted controls in HACCP plans for monitoring foodborne Viruses as highlighted by FAO

1983 : 24 cases with raspberry mousse

One of the very first publication describing an Hepatitis A Virus outbreak in Aberdeen, UK with raspberries

2012 : 11000 cases of norovirus in Germany  associated with strawberries

2013 : 1440 hepatitis A cases have been reported in 12 European countries

2013 : Oubreak of HAV in Italy with frozen redcurrants

2015 : 162 hepatitis A cases in a multi-state outbreak in the US

2016 : 143 cases with Frozen strawberries contaminated with HAV

2017 : Frozen berries linked to HAV outbeak in Australia

EU Regulation (EC) 669/2009 and Norovirus

Raspberries from Serbia are under scrutiny from the authorities in Europe.

ISO/TS 15216-1:2013 - Horizontal method for determination of hepatitis A virus and norovirus in food using real-time RT-PCR

RASFF 2017 Foodborne Virus Alerts

Sources :

lundi 27 mars 2017

Retail Shops and Foodborne Virus Control

Fresh vegetables and their ready-to-eat (RTE) salads have become increasingly recognized as potential vehicles for foodborne diseases. The EU Reg. 1441/2007 establishes microbiological criteria for bacterial pathogens for products placed on the market during their shelf-life for pre-cut fruits and vegetables (RTE) whilst it does not address the problem of contamination by enteric viruses.

Ready-To-Eat Virus Contamination

In this study contamination by :
  • hepatitis A virus (HAV),
  • hepatitis E virus (HEV) and
  • norovirus (NoV)
was investigated in 911 ready-to-eat vegetable samples taken from products at retail in Apulia and in Lombardia.

Apulia, Italy
Résultat d’images pour lombardia
Lombardia, Italy

The vegetable samples were tested using validated real-time PCR.

Prevalence of foodborne Hepatitis Virus

The total prevalence of HAV and HEV was 1.9% (18/911) and 0.6% (6/911), respectively. The detection of HAV and HEV in RTE salads highlights a risk to consumers and the need to improve production hygiene. Appropriate implementation of hygiene procedures is required at all the steps of the RTE vegetable production chain.
This should include monitoring of emerging viral pathogens.

Presence of Norovirus &Adenovirus on Environmental Surfaces

Norovirus (NoV) gastroenteritis outbreaks appear frequently in food service operations (FSOs), such as in restaurants and canteens. In this study the presence of NoV and adenovirus (AdV) genomes was investigated on the surfaces of premises, especially in kitchens, of 30 FSOs where foodborne gastroenteritis outbreaks were suspected.

The objective was to establish a possible association between the presence of virus genomes on surfaces and a visual hygienic status of the FSOs. NoV genome was found in 11 and AdV genome in 8 out of 30 FSOs.

Positive swabbing with Norovirus and Adenovirus

Swab sampling method have been developped to address the issue In total, 291 swabs were taken, of which 8.9% contained NoV and 5.8% AdV genome. The study suggests that
  • swabbing is necessary for revealing viral contamination of surfaces
  • emphasis of hygiene inspections should be on the food handling procedures,
  • the education of food workers on virus transmission is key.

Norovirus cross-contamination during preparation of fresh produce

The goal of this study was to examine cross-contamination of a HuNoV surrogate, murine norovirus (MNV-1), during common procedures used in preparing fresh produce in a food service setting, including turning water spigots, handling and chopping Romaine lettuce, and washing hands. The data gathered indicate that MNV-1 transfers readily between common surfaces during food preparation.

The Federation of Commerce and Distribution and Foodborne virus

The Federation of Commerce and Distribution in France, a Professional Group gathering supermarkets (retail shops), publishes GUIDELINES for the control of Norovirus and Hepatitis A Virus in many food matrices, including Frozen Fruits, Scallops, Live bivalve shellfish, Herbs and salads (leafy greens).

Foodborne Virus and Regulations in Europe

Résultat d’images pour dura lex sed lex


Foodstuffs should not contain micro-organisms or their toxins or metabolites in quantities that present an unacceptable risk for human health, according to CE/2073/2005.


Frozen raspberries (food) originating from Serbia at a control frequency of 10% due to their possible contamination with norovirus (CE) n°669/2009

HACCP and Control Plan for Foodborne Virus

The main reasons for using HACCP are to implement food safety management and prevent food safety hazards. By identifying where hazards are most likely to occur in the operation it will be much easier to put in place the measures needed to prevent those hazards, especially the ones concerned by Foodborne viruses (Norovirus and Hepatitis A Virus). In addition, food safety incidents, such as the Pomegranate seeds contamination by HAV, or the Frozen Strawberries originating from Egypt and contaminated by Hepatitis A Virus, can be prevented by an effective HACCP system.

Virus Outbreaks in Europe in 2017

Norovirus and Hepatitis A Virus Outbreaks in Europe in 2017
Molluscs, Fruits and Vegetable have been implicated in outbreaks in 2017, originating from no less than seven countries. Norovirus was the most common foodborne virus (92%). Italy has been the greatest provider of Alerts in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed so far.
Sources :
- Pubmed
- European Union


mercredi 8 mars 2017

Seaweed : Norovirus contaminations?


Norovirus (and other waterborne viruses) can enter ocean habitat from sewage outflows or through waste discharged. Noroviruses are highly contagious. Good Aquaculturing Practice, Good Hygiene Practice, and Good manufacturing Practice are key to prevent foodborne virus outbreaks.  

Definition of Seaweed

  1. A mass or growth of marine plants
  2. A plant growing in the sea, especially: a marine alga (as a kelp)

Marine macroalgae (seaweeds) are plant-like organisms that generally live attached to hard substrata in coastal areas. They belong to three different groups :
  • brown algae
  • red algae
  • green algae

Norovirus outbreaks with seaweed

After a scientific publication by Korea describing an outbreak with seasoned green seaweed, a more recent news from Japan confirms a norovirus outbreak due to kizami nori from Japan.

1/ In South Korea, seasoned green seaweed and norovirus

In February 2012, an outbreak of gastroenteritis was reported in school A; a successive outbreak was reported at school B. A retrospective cohort study conducted in school A showed that seasoned green seaweed with radishes was significantly associated with illness. Multiple norovirus genotypes were detected in samples from students in schools A and B. Green seaweed was assumed to be linked to these outbreaks. 

2/ In Japan, kizami nori and norovirus

In February 2017, 1,098 students at the Tachikawa City schools were affected by the outbreak, linked to “Nori” 刻み海苔 dried laver seaweed (blamed for food poisoning outbreaks at schools in Tachikawa, western Tokyo, as well as Gobo and Hidakagawa, both of which are in Wakayama Prefecture).They presented with symptoms of vomiting and abdominal pain. Norovirus has been detected in at least one of the patients and the strain matched the strain found in the shredded seaweed samples.

Production of Japanese Nori.

An Example

Can Norovirus be deactivated in seaweed?

Norovirus is unique, and different from surrogates usually used in studies ( A study investigated the effects of gamma radiation (3-10 kGy) upon the inactivation of murine norovirus-1 (MNV-1), a human norovirus (NoV) surrogate, on the edible green and brown algae, fulvescens (Capsosiphon fulvescens) and fusiforme (Hizikia fusiforme), respectively,

Adhesion of norovirus to vegetal surfaces

The attachment of these pathogens to foodstuff and food-contact surfaces is an important mechanism in the human contamination process. The results of a study (Bacterial Surface-Displayed GII.4 Human Norovirus Capsid Proteins Bound to HBGA-Like Molecules in Romaine Lettuce) indicated that histo-blood group antigen-like molecules in LE or VE were involved in the binding of the surface-displayed HuNoV proteins to romaine lettuce.

What should seaweed producers do?

It is important that producers and processors, as well as importers and retailers of seaweed take into account the viral risk in their HACCP plan, and identify the various critical control points (CCP), where Norovirus could have been in contact with the sea vegetable. Processes should be evaluated to verify that they can inactivate norovirus, a major cause of food contamination worldwide. Good Agricultural Practice should be set into place to prevent any cross-contamination. Scientific Opinion on the risk posed by pathogens in food of non-animal origin. Part 2 (Salmonella and Norovirus in leafy greens eaten raw as salads)

Norovirus Detection Methods in Seaweed

The ISO 15216 Standard, an horizontal method for the detection of foodborne viruses in food matrices, covers several specific matrices, including vegetable in a form of a leaf. Norovirus GI and norovirus GII presence or absence can be evaluated using PCR real time detecion, after several steps including sample preparation and elution. 

Learn more about Food- and Water-borne viruses

samedi 4 mars 2017

Real time PCR norovirus Detection

Easy duplex Norovirus detection with GENE-UP PCR thermocycler, extraction platform for RNA with ISO compliant reagents now available for industry and contract labs. 

A complete integrated workflow = One Stop solution

• Reliable and reproducible results, regardless of the technician thanks to calibrated products and positive internal control for each reaction. 

• ISO/TS 15216 recommended Process control Mengovirus and highly efficient extraction and acid nucleic acid purification with nucliSENS reagents

• Fast and Accurate Results with optimized PCR platform for ceeramTOOLS® real time RT-PCR kits

• A large panel of RT-PCR and PCR kits for the detection of: Norovirus (Norovirus GI, Norovirus GII), Hepatitis Virus (Hepatitis A  virus, Hepatitis E virus),  Enterovirus, Astrovirus, Rotavirus, Adenovirus, Sapovirus as well as parasites (Cryptosporidium, Giarda)

• All-in-one, ready-to-use real time RT-PCR Kits validated on GENE-UP® and other real time PCR thermocyclers

• A range of unique services: training, support at local and international level

• Highly international recognized Expertise

Norovirus  detection PCR kit features

Ready-to-useceeramTOOLs PCr detection kits for viruses and parasites real-time detection

Ease-of-use (from tube to well)


IPC (Internal Positive Control) Included

- & + controls included

Mastermix & Enzyme mixes

Primers & Probes

Real Time PCR one step

18 months shelf-life

Bar coded for traceability

Learn more about foorborne viruses

- Semi-Dried Tomatoes & Foodborne Virus


Persistence & Elimination of Norovirus

Find out more at

mardi 28 février 2017

Semi-dried tomatoes and foodborne virus

In February 2017, RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) published an alert implicating semi-dried tomatoes contaminated with norovirus. Originating from Italy, semi-dried tomatoes in sunflower oil were delivered to the Czech Republic who detected foodborne viruses (Norovirus). Both genogroups GI and GII, according to the report, were found in the samples tested.

This is unfortunately not the first time that Foodborne Viruses are to be found in Semi-dried tomatoes :

England, 2011

In October 2011, two primary cases of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection with identical HAV genotype IB strains to those seen in other outbreaks associated with semi-dried tomatoes were reported in England. Both cases had consumed semi-dried tomatoes. Epidemiological investigations revealed 2 additional cases of genotype IB strains with different sequences who also reported having consumed semi-dried tomatoes. In November, 5 cases of HAV infection with closely related strains were identified in the Netherlands.

Netherlands, 2010

Between 31 December 2009 and 10 February 2010, 13 patients were infected by an identical hepatitis A virus strain not previously detected in the Netherlands. They had not been abroad and were widely distributed over the Netherlands. A case-control study including 12 cases and 44 controls identified semi-dried tomatoes in oil as the source of the outbreak.

France, 2010

In January 2010, two clusters of nontraveler-associated hepatitis A were reported in 3 districts of southwestern France. A single IB strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV) was isolated. An investigation was conducted to describe the outbreak, identify the vehicle of transmission and source of infection, and propose appropriate control measures. Twenty-four (51%) reported eating semidried tomatoes, 20 of 566m reported purchasing semidried tomatoes in 1 of 3 different sandwich shop chains.

Australia, 2009

A large outbreak of hepatitis A affected individuals in several Australian states in 2009. Two peaks of infection occurred, with surveillance data suggesting locally acquired infections from a widely distributed food product. The results of both case-control studies and food testing implicated the novel vehicle of semidried tomatoes as the cause of this hepatitis A outbreak. Hepatitis A RNA was detected in 22 samples of semidried tomatoes. Hepatitis A virus genotype IB was identified in 144 of 153 (94%) patients tested from 2009, and partial sequence analysis showed complete identity with an isolate found in a sample of semidried tomatoes.

Production of semi-dried tomatoes

Oven dried

Sun dried

Prevention and control of Foodborne Virus in ready-to-eat semi-dried products

Manufacturers should consider enteric viruses as a major public health risk in their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans, says FAO. 

Recommendations on prevention and control of HAV 

In addition to safety regulations already in place, measures need to be taken to ensure provision of virus-safe foods in order to prevent contamination. Considering the high prevalence of foodborne infections by viruses, one should exercise precaution. Proper hand hygiene should be maintained, personally and during food preparation, to prevent contamination of food and spread to other persons. Once contamination of foods has occurred, the following mitigation strategies can be employed: (i) disposal of contaminated foods; or (ii) heat treatment (at ≥ 90° C for ≥ 90 seconds and pasteurization at ≥70° C for ≥ 15 minutes). Learn More from FAO.

Persistance and eliminination of Norovirus

NoV & HAV, major vectors of food contamination 

Microbiological hazards associated with fresh produce

Viruses are not likely to grow on contaminated vegetables and fruits but can survive long enough to cause life-threatening illness in humans. Consumption of fresh and lightly processed produce, coupled with an increase in importation of produce from regions where standards for growing and handling produce may be compromised should be an incentive to producers, importers to better monitor this viral risk.


Learn more about Food- and Water-borne viruses :