Research on the viruses NoV, HAV and HEV, which are transferable via certain food products, and contribution to risk assessment

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    In this project we develop sensitive detection methods for viruses in high-risk food products. We also evaluate the effect of intervention and control measures. Viruses, in particular norovirus (NoV) and hepatitis A (HAV) are shown to belong to the most important causes of food-borne outbreaks in Europe. Concern is also growing about the emerging food-borne hepatitis E virus (HEV). Foodborne viral outbreaks are associated with raw vegetables and fruit, shellfish, and ready-to-eat meals, among others.

    Research approach
    The first part of the project comprises the optimization and validation of detection methods for NoV, HAV and HEV in high-risk foods and water. Viral extraction procedures as well as molecular detection methods are evaluated. In the second part we study the virucidal effect of biocides used for decontamination of hands and surfaces and of heating and antimicrobial agents used in production processes of foods. For this purpose cultivable model viruses are used. Third, we develop two quantitative exposure models to evaluate the effect of biocides during preparation of sandwiches as well as the use of antimicrobial agents in the production process of green vegetables and small red fruits.

    The optimized and validated detection methods for NoV, HAV and HEV are implemented in the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) of food-borne outbreaks in Belgium. The governmental authorities (FASFC and Federal Service for Public Health) are informed about the available methodologies. In turn, those authorities can pass on this information to other relevant parties (laboratories, health inspectors, etc.). To distribute the knowledge and methods we publish the results of this project in international peer-reviewed journals. We present the results at national and international conferences. Via workshops, oral presentations and posters we inform relevant industries, companies, organizations and government authorities.

    External partner(s)
    Ugent - Fac. Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen
    ULG - Université de Liège - Fac. De Médecine Vétérinaire
    WIV - Wetenschappelijk Instituut voor Volksgezondheid
    Effective start/end date1/01/1131/12/13

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