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. The past months Primoris participated in the following proficiency tests:
- BNN: pesticides in tomato passata
- Sciensano: mycotoxins in rusk
- DRRR: mineral oils in cocoa butter and cholocate
- FAPAS: pesticides in milk powder
- Proof-ACS: pesticides in sweet pepper
- Relana: pesticides in babyleaf lettuce
- FAPAS: heavy metals in dried herbs
- FAPAS: pesticides in parsley
- FAPAS: MCPD in vegetable oil
Since Monday 26 October, Primoris can support you with accredited analyses to quantify ethylene oxide in food and feed. Samples that are registered as from Tuesday 10 November for ethylene oxide analysis will be reported with a reporting limit of 0,01 mg/kg.
UPDATE 27 October 2020 | Belgium is currently dealing with a second wave of the coronavirus. For the moment, this new wave has no impact on our activities and we will do everything within our power to ensure the continuity of our services to our customers. It goes without saying that we take all necessary safety and hygienic measures 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.