Journal article Open Access

Strategies to reduce norovirus (NoV) contamination from oysters under depuration conditions

Younger, Andrew D.; Neish, Anna; Walker, David I.; Jenkins, Kaitlyn L.; Lowther, James A.; Stapleton, Tina A.; Teixeira Alves, Mickael

Depuration of oysters can effectively reduce levels of E. coli, however, may not be effective in safeguarding against viral contamination (EFSA, 2012). These trials assess the removal of Norovirus Genogroups I and II (NoV GI and GII) and F + RNA bacteriophage genogroup II (FRNAP-II) from oysters under depuration using molecular and viability assay methods. Our results show consistently better removal of NoV GII compared with Nov GI. We found approximately 46% removal of NoV GII at 18 °C after 2 days and 60% after 5 days compared with a maximum of 16% NoV GI removal. Twice the rate of NoV GII removal was achieved at 18 °C compared with 8 °C after 5 days. Results suggest better NoV removal when depuration water salinity is close to that prevailing in the harvesting area. Trials investigating algal feeding, light/dark and disturbance from pump vibration did not show any significant effect.

We found that FRNAP-II was more readily removed than NoV. No significant difference was found between the rate of removal (as measured by RT-qPCR) and inactivation (as measured by bioassay) of FRNAP-II. This indicates that reduction in FRNAP-II may be primarily due to physical removal (or destruction) rather than in situ inactivation of the virus.

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