Foodborne viral outbreaks associated with frozen produce

Epidemiol Infect. 2019 Oct 18:147:e291. doi: 10.1017/S0950268819001791.


Over the past decade, frozen fruits have been a major vehicle of foodborne illnesses mainly attributed to norovirus (NoV) and hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections. Fresh produce may acquire viral contamination by direct contact with contaminated surface, water or hands, and is then frozen without undergoing proper decontamination. Due to their structural integrity, foodborne viruses are able to withstand hostile conditions such as desiccation and freezing, and endure for a long period of time without losing their infectivity. Additionally, these foods are often consumed raw or undercooked, which increases the risk of infection. Herein, we searched published literature and databases of reported outbreaks as well as the databases of news articles for the viral outbreaks associated with the consumption of frozen produce between January 2008 and December 2018; recorded the worldwide distribution of these outbreaks; and analysed the implication of consumption of different types of contaminated frozen food. In addition, we have briefly discussed the factors that contribute to an increased risk of foodborne viral infection following the consumption of frozen produce. Our results revealed that frozen fruits, especially berries and pomegranate arils, contributed to the majority of the outbreaks, and that most outbreaks were reported in industrialised countries.

Keywords: Frozen fruit; Hepatitis A virus; Norovirus; Outbreak.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Food Preservation*
  • Foodborne Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Foodborne Diseases / virology
  • Freezing*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Virus Diseases / epidemiology*