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Hepatitis A in soft fruits: new alerts notified
September 16 2022

Hepatitis A in soft fruits: new alerts notified

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Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by the HAV virus, mainly associated with inadequately prepared or washed food, contaminated water, inadequate sanitation and personal hygiene.

Hepatitis A often occurs in an epidemic form as it is linked to contaminated food or water, can break out explosively and last over time, affecting communities for long periods through person-to-person transmission.

Transmission and sources of contamination

Food contamination can be caused by improper handling and lack of personal hygiene and work equipment sanitization, while waterborne outbreaks are usually associated with contaminated wastewater or improperly treated water.

Hepatitis A viruses persist in the environment and are able to resist food production processes normally used to inactivate or control pathogenic microorganisms.

Hepatitis A virus strikes at hepatic level, so it has a temperature optimum around 37 °C. For this reason and at high temperatures, it also develops well in the environment –especially during summer periods and in today’s context of climate change and global warming. Another factor that increases the mobility of the virus undoubtedly is the increase of phenomena such as heavy rains, storms, and floods, which are the cause of water contamination with wastewater, then soil and finally food.

EU notified hepatitis A outbreak in fruit and vegetables

In the past year and a half, five outbreaks of hepatitis A have been reported worldwide, in different geographical areas. In particular, two major alerts were notified between June and August: the first in the United States and the second in Europe, mainly affecting plant food matrices (soft fruits).

Mérieux NutriSciences global solution

As a provider of global solutions for agri-food industries, Mérieux NutriSciences supports companies with analytical services, consultancy and monitoring of food alerts and frauds.

Indeed, the Expert Services division provides digital tools for monitoring food safety alerts based on official and media sources at global level (Safety HUD) and our laboratories offer qualitative and quantitative analytical solutions for the determination of hepatitis A virus in food and water matrices.

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