According to the EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), a total of 66 norovirus alerts have been reported since January 2019. It should be noted that 9% of them were detected in blueberries, raspberries, and currants from Serbia, Peru, China, Morocco, and Poland, among other origins.
Human noroviruses are the main agent of acute gastroenteritis in Europe. The main genogroups of this virus that affect humans are GI, GII, GIV, GVIII, and GIX. These viruses are resistant to food washing, freezing, and even many heat treatments. Enteric viruses are mainly transmitted via the ingestion of food contaminated with feces and, therefore, can potentially be present in foods that have been irrigated with water contaminated with fecal matter.
These viruses are quickly and easily transmitted via horticultural and fresh fruits that are consumed raw or that are minimally processed. Spain is one of the largest producers of these vegetable products. In this scenario, ValGenetics -a company from Valencia that specializes in pathogen detection and plant health- started to work with the food transmission virus research group of the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC) to develop a kit to detect and quantify the main genotypes of norovirus, initially on strawberries and raspberries.