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Int J Food Microbiol. 2017 May 16;249:61-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2017.03.008. Epub 2017 Mar 14.

Occurrence of hepatitis A and E and norovirus GI and GII in ready-to-eat vegetables in Italy.

Author information

1
Department of Veterinary Medicine (DIMEV), University of Bari, Provincial Road to Casamassima, km 3, 70010 Valenzano, Bari, Italy. Electronic address: valentina.terio@uniba.it.
2
Department of Veterinary Medicine (DIMEV), University of Bari, Provincial Road to Casamassima, km 3, 70010 Valenzano, Bari, Italy.
3
Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna (IZSLER), Via Bianchi no. 9, 25124 Brescia, Italy.
4
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, via Tolara di Sopra 50, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, BO, Italy.

Abstract

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 (i.e. Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes) for pre-cut fruits and vegetables (RTE) whilst it does not address the problem of contamination by enteric viruses. In this study we investigated the contamination by hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis E virus (HEV) and norovirus (NoV) in 911 ready-to-eat vegetable samples taken from products at retail in Apulia and in Lombardia. The vegetable samples were tested using validated real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) assays, ISO standardized virological methods and ISO culturing methods for bacteriological analysis. The total prevalence of HAV and HEV was 1.9% (18/911) and 0.6% (6/911), respectively. None of the samples analysed in this study was positive for NoV, Salmonella spp. or Listeria monocytogenes. 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 and this should include monitoring of emerging viral pathogens.

KEYWORDS:

Green vegetables; Molecular methods; Viruses

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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