To improve the detection of food-borne viruses, specifically Norwalk-Like-Viruses (NVLs), using novel concentration and detection methods linked to infectivity.
Infection with enteric viruses is a major cause of gastro-enteritis. Although links to consumption of contaminated shellfish, and infection resulting from contamination by food handlers are well established, links to sources of contamination in other parts of the food chain are less well established. Trends towards the sale of prepared foods (particularly, those consumed without further cooking), imported organic produce, and eating out in catering establishments, all potentially increase the risk of food contamination. The major cause of viral gastroenteritis in adults in the UK is the noroviruses (until recently known as Norwalk-Like-Viruses or NLVs)
Techniques for the detection of noroviruses in foods are poorly developed partly because these viruses do not grow in tissue culture systems so currently available methods fail to distinguish between non-infectious and infectious virus. This project plans to address this problem by developing novel concentration and detection methods for noroviruses linked to infectivity. Specific objectives are:
<LI> Development of simple, quantitative, and convenient assays for infective noroviruses
<LI> Development of simple prototype virus extraction/concentration procedures for food matrices compatible with new assays.
<LI> Application of the developed methods to food and environmental samples in order to identify verifiable critical control points.
<LI> Application of the developed methods to the inactivation of NLVs in model food production processes focusing on raw material QC and effectiveness of processing on norovirus inactivation.
<LI> Exploitation of the developed methods for the benefit of the food industry and consumer.