Infection with hepatitis E virus genotype 3 (HEV-3) is an emerging cause of illness in developed countries. In North America and Europe, HEV-3 has been increasingly detected in swine, and exposure to pigs and pork products is considered the primary source of infection. We have previously demonstrated the prevalence of the HEV-3 genome in commercial pork products in Canada. In this study, we investigated the application of citric acid and acetic acid to inactivate HEV-3 on food and on food-contact surfaces. For this purpose, plastic, stainless steel and pork pâté surfaces were inoculated with HEV-3 and were treated with acetic acid or citric acid at 1%, 3%, or 5%. The infectivity of post treatment viral particles was determined by cell culture. A greater than 2-log reduction in viral infectivity was observed on plastic and stainless steel treated with the organic acids, but the treatment was much less effective on HEV infectivity on pork pâté (average reductions of 0.47 log citric acid, and 0.63 log acetic acid). Therefore, we conclude that citric acid and acetic acid have potential application to control HEV-3 on food contact surfaces, but are not suitable for food.
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