Research – Reduction of Norovirus in Foods by Nonthermal Treatments: A Review

Journal of Food Protection


Human noroviruses are enteric pathogens that cause a substantial proportion of acute gastroenteritis cases worldwide regardless of background variables such as age, ethnicity, and gender. Although person-to-person contact is the general route of transmission, foodborne infections are also common. Thorough cooking eliminates noroviruses, but several food products such as berries, leafy vegetables, and mollusks undergo only limited heat treatment, if any, before consumption. Novel applications of nonthermal processing technologies are currently being vigorously researched because they can be used to inactivate pathogens and extend product shelf life with limited effects on nutrient content and perceived quality. These technologies, adopted from several industrial fields, include some methods already approved for food processing that have been applied in the food industry for years. However, a majority of the research has been conducted with bacteria and simple matrixes or surfaces. This review focuses on elimination of norovirus in food matrixes by use of nonthermal technologies in four categories: high hydrostatic pressure, light, irradiation, and cold atmospheric plasma. We discuss the properties of noroviruses, principles and inactivation mechanisms of select technologies, and main findings of relevant studies. We also provide an overview of the current status of the research and propose future directions for related work.

  • High pressure processing is the most promising nonthermal treatment for noroviruses.
  • High pressure processing, ionizing radiation, and UVC light can reduce noroviruses in foods.
  • Treatments used to eliminate viruses can impair food product quality.
  • Optimal virus elimination strategies should be validated independently for each food product.

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