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.
The method has been approved for accreditation and we expect the new accreditation certificate in the first quarter of 2017.
As part of ensuring a constant quality control and -improvement, Primoris takes part in many national and international ring tests. These are independent checks on the quality of laboratory analysis. Based on the results of these ring tests, the performance of the analytical method is evaluated and, if necessary, improved. Some of these ring tests are undercover tests in order to meet the highest possible quality standards.
On Thursday June 15th we organize our annual seminar in Belgium (Nazareth, East Flanders). Registrations for the seminar open on Wednesday May 3rd and close on Wednesday June 7th on our website www.primorisevent.be. Attention: the seminar will be completely in Dutch.
On December 16th, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Belgian private lab, that was officially launched on July 1st 2001 as a spin-off of the Belgian Ghent University.
So it is with great pleasure and pride that we can announce a further substantial expansion of our GMS(L) and LMS(L) multi-residue methods. On Februari 15, 2016, the scope of these two methods was extended with 35 active compounds, to a total of 536.