When it comes to IQF products, like small fruits and salads it is essential that companies pay particular attention to the hepatitis A and norovirus GI and GII viruses, which are responsible for gastrointestinal infections. These viruses are highly contagious even in small amounts and are transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated food and contact with infected surfaces.
An example of a commonly used tool
"Recently there have been several issues linked to small fruits coming from Eastern Europe, generating several warnings across the whole continent. Washing water can also become contaminated if they are not carefully controlled and may consequently lead to the contamination of the fruit and vegetables that are being washed. It is also important to pay particular attention to IQF products", explains Silvia Zuccherelli from Sicural.
As far as small fruits are concerned, it is important to avoid mixing lots coming from different geographical areas, especially if imported, and to carry out constant analyzes. Deep-freezing does not neutralize Hepatitis A and norovirus GI and GII viruses. It is necessary to carry out targeted checks on finished products and, if the result is positive, then it is necessary to go back along the supply chain.
"Fruit and vegetable companies often contact us to perform checks on the presence of these viruses. Vegetables could be contaminated as a result of irrigation by means of surface waters. Even disinfection with chlorine does not always suffice", adds Silvia Zuccherelli.
Sicural is an accredited laboratory for the research of Hepatitis A and norovirus GI and GII. In order to detect these viruses, the PCR technique is used following RNA retro-transcription. It is therefore not an analysis for everyone, but only for those who have the right tools and skills.