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Food Microbiol. 2012 Oct;32(1):48-56. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 Apr 25.

Adhesion of human pathogenic enteric viruses and surrogate viruses to inert and vegetal food surfaces.

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Institut Pasteur de Lille - Unité de Sécurité Microbiologique, 1 rue du Professeur Calmette, BP 245, 59019 Lille, France.


Enteric viruses, particularly human Noroviruses (NoV) and hepatitis A virus (HAV), are key food-borne pathogens. The attachment of these pathogens to foodstuff and food-contact surfaces is an important mechanism in the human contamination process. Studies were done to investigate the nature of the physicochemical forces, such as hydrophobic and electrostatic ones, involved in the interaction virus/matrix but, at this day, only few data are available concerning surface properties of viruses and prediction of the adhesion capacity of one specific virus onto matrices is still very difficult. The purpose of this study was to propose a reference system, including a representative virus surrogate, able to predict as close as possible behaviour of pathogenic viruses in term of adhesion on inert (stainless steel and polypropylene) and food surfaces (lettuce leaves, strawberries and raspberries). The adhesion of human pathogenic enteric viruses, cultivable strain of HAV and non-cultivable strains of human NoV (genogroups I and II), have been quantified and compared to these of human enteric viruses surrogates, included the MNV-1 and three F-specific RNA bacteriophages (MS2, GA and Qβ). A standardized approach was developed to assess and quantify viral adhesion on tested matrices after a contact time with each virus using real-time RT-PCR. Methods used for virus recovery were in accordance with the CEN recommendations, including a bovine Enterovirus type 1 as control to monitor the efficiency of the extraction process and amplification procedure from directly extracted or eluted samples. The adhesion of human pathogenic viruses, ranging from 0.1 to 2%, could be comparable for all matrices studied, except for NoV GII on soft fruits. Adhesion percentages obtained for the studied surrogate virus and phages were shown to be comparable to those of HAV and NoV on inert and lettuce surfaces. The MNV-1 appeared as the best candidate to simulate adhesion phenomena of all human pathogenic enteric viruses on all studied surfaces, while MS2 and GA bacteriophages could be a good alternative as model of viral adhesion on inert and lettuce surfaces. These results will be usable to design relevant experimental systems integrating adhesion behaviour of enteric viruses in the assessment of the efficiency of a technological or hygienic industrial process.

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