Persistence of caliciviruses on environmental surfaces and their transfer to food

Int J Food Microbiol. 2006 Apr 15;108(1):84-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2005.10.024. Epub 2006 Feb 13.


The noroviruses (NoV) are a common cause of human gastroenteritis whose transmission by foodborne routes is well documented. Fecally contaminated surfaces are likely to contribute to this foodborne transmission and to the propagation of viral disease outbreaks. The purpose of this study was to (i) investigate the stability of NoV on various food preparation surfaces; and (ii) evaluate the degree of virus transfer from these surfaces to a model-ready-to-eat (RTE) food. For the virus persistence experiments, stainless steel, formica and ceramic coupons were artificially contaminated with Norwalk virus (NV), the prototype genogroup I NoV; NV RNA; or feline calicivirus (FCV) F9 (a NoV surrogate), stored at ambient temperature for up to 7 d, and periodically assayed for detection. In the transfer experiments, stainless steel coupons were inoculated with NV or FCV F9 and allowed to dry for 10, 30 and 60 min, after which lettuce leaves were exposed to the surface of the coupons at various contact pressures (10, 100, and 1000 g/9 cm2). Virus recovery was evaluated by RT-PCR (for NV and NV RNA) or by plaque assay (for FCV F9) using Crandell Reese Feline Kidney (CRFK) cells. NV and FCV were detected on all three surfaces for up to 7 d post-inoculation; for FCV, there was an approximate 6 to 7-log10 drop in virus titer over the 7 d evaluation period. By contrast, when stainless steel was inoculated with purified NV RNA, RT-PCR detection was not possible beyond 24 h. Transfer of both NV and FCV from stainless steel surfaces to lettuce occurred with relative ease. This study confirms lengthy NoV persistence on common food preparation surfaces and their ease of transfer, confirming a potential role for environmental contamination in the propagation of viral gastroenteritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Calicivirus, Feline / growth & development
  • Calicivirus, Feline / isolation & purification
  • Calicivirus, Feline / physiology
  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Equipment Contamination*
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Norovirus / growth & development
  • Norovirus / isolation & purification
  • Norovirus / physiology*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Stainless Steel / analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Viral Plaque Assay


  • RNA, Viral
  • Stainless Steel