Sep. 1, 2008 - Aug. 31, 2011Award Number
USDA - CSREESAmount Awarded
Illinois Institute of Technology
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, human enteric viruses are estimated to cause two-thirds of the foodborne illness in the U.S. each year, with the great majority of those attributed to norovirus (NoV). Fruits and vegetables have increasingly been implicated as vehicles for NoV gastroenteritis. Such foods may become contaminated at the source, in a farm setting, during processing, in the home or food service kitchen during preparation, or during serving by infected food handlers or patrons. The goal of this proposal is to examine cross-contamination of NoV during common procedures used in preparation of fresh produce and evaluate the risk reduction after workers' exposure to educational materials developed as a result of the research findings. NoV transfer data will be collected using murine NoV (MNV-1) as a surrogate for human NoV (HNV) between hands, fresh produce items, knives and cutting boards. In some cases, HNV transfer data will also be collected and compared with MNV-1 transfer data. The ability of handwashing and gloves to prevent or reduce virus transfer from hands during food preparation will also be examined. Cross-contamination data generated in this study will be incorporated into a quantitative risk assessment, which may be used to determine risk management strategies that will have an impact on reducing the contamination of fresh produce food items in foodservice settings. Results will be communicated to food safety professionals and foodservice operators, with an evaluation of risk reduction based on behavioral change.