Survival and transfer of murine norovirus 1, a surrogate for human noroviruses, during the production process of deep-frozen onions and spinach

J Food Prot. 2008 Aug;71(8):1590-7. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-71.8.1590.


The reduction of murine norovirus 1 (MNV-1) on onions and spinach by washing was investigated as was the risk of contamination during the washing procedure. To decontaminate wash water, the industrial sanitizer peracetic acid (PAA) was added to the water, and the survival of MNV-1 was determined. In contrast to onions, spinach undergoes a heat treatment before freezing. Therefore, the resistance of MNV-1 to blanching of spinach was examined. MNV-1 genomic copies were detected with a real-time reverse transcription PCR assay in PAA-treated water and blanched spinach, and PFUs (representing infectious MNV-1 units) were determined with a plaque assay. A < or = 1-log reduction in MNV-1 PFUs was achieved by washing onion bulbs and spinach leaves. More than 3 log PFU of MNV-1 was transmitted to onion bulbs and spinach leaves when these vegetables were washed in water containing approximately 5 log PFU/ml. No decline of MNV-1 occurred in used industrial spinach wash water after 6 days at room temperature. A concentration of 20 ppm of PAA in demineralized water (pH 4.13) and in potable water (pH 7.70) resulted in reductions of 2.88 +/- 0.25 and 2.41 +/- 0.18 log PFU, respectively, after 5 min of exposure, but no decrease in number of genomic copies was observed. No reduction of MNV-1 PFUs was observed on frozen onions or spinach during storage for 6 months. Blanching spinach (80 degrees C for 1 min) resulted in at least 2.44-log reductions of infectious MNV-1, but many genomic copies were still present.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Frozen Foods
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Norovirus / growth & development*
  • Onions / virology*
  • Peracetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Spinacia oleracea / virology*
  • Viral Plaque Assay
  • Virus Inactivation*


  • Peracetic Acid