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Persistence of Hepatitis A Virus in Fresh Produce and Production Environments, and the Effect of Disinfection Procedures: A Review

  • Cook, N.1, 2
  • Bertrand, I.3, 4, 5
  • Gantzer, C.3, 4, 5
  • Pinto, R. M.6
  • Bosch, A.6
  • 1 Food and Environment Research Agency, York, UK , York (United Kingdom)
  • 2 Jorvik Food and Environmental Virology Ltd., York, UK , York (United Kingdom)
  • 3 Université de Lorraine, LCPME (Laboratoire de Chimie Physique et Microbiologie pour l’Environnement), UMR 7564, Faculté de Pharmacie, Nancy, 54000, France , Nancy (France)
  • 4 CNRS, LCPME, UMR 7564, Nancy, 54000, France , Nancy (France)
  • 5 Université de Lorraine, Faculté des Sciences et Technologies, Institut Jean Barriol, Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, 54506, France , Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy (France)
  • 6 University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain , Barcelona (Spain)
Published Article
Food and Environmental Virology
Springer US
Publication Date
May 14, 2018
DOI: 10.1007/s12560-018-9349-1
Springer Nature


Although information is limited, it is evident that prolonged persistence of infectious Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is a factor in the transmission of the virus via fresh produce. Consequently, data on persistence of the virus on produce, and in environments relevant to production, such as soils, water and surfaces, are required to fully understand the dynamics of transmission of HAV via foods. Furthermore, information on effective disinfection procedures is necessary to implement effective post-harvest control measures. This review summarises current information on HAV persistence in fresh produce and on relevant disinfection procedures. On vegetables, HAV can remain infectious for several days; on frozen berries, it can persist for several months. HAV can remain infectious on surfaces for months, depending on temperature and relative humidity, and can survive desiccation. It can survive for several hours on hands. Washing hands can remove the virus, but further data are required on the appropriate procedure. Chlorination is effective in water, but not when HAV is associated with foodstuffs. Bleach and other sodium hypochlorite disinfectants at high concentrations can reduce HAV on surfaces, but are not suitable for use on fresh produce. There is only limited information on the effects of heating regimes used in the food industry on HAV. HAV is resistant to mild pasteurisation. Some food components, e.g. fats and sugars, can increase the virus’ resistance to higher temperatures. HAV is completely eliminated by boiling. Quantitative prevalence data are needed to allow the setting of appropriate disinfection log reduction targets for fresh produce.

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