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Frequency of hepatitis E virus, rotavirus and porcine enteric calicivirus at various stages of pork carcass processing in two pork processing plants

Jones, T.H., Muehlhauser, V. (2017). Frequency of hepatitis E virus, rotavirus and porcine enteric calicivirus at various stages of pork carcass processing in two pork processing plants, 259 29-34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2017.07.019

Abstract

© 2017 Hepatitis E virus (HEV), rotavirus (RV), and porcine enteric calicivirus (PEC) infections are common in swine and raises concerns about the potential for zoonotic transmission through undercooked meat products. Enteric viruses can potentially contaminate carcasses during meat processing operations. There is a lack of information on the prevalence and control of enteric viruses in the pork processing chain. This study compared the incidence and levels of contamination of hog carcasses with HEV, RV and PEC at different stages of the dressing process. A total of 1000 swabs were collected from 2 pork processing plants on 10 separate occasions over the span of a year. The samples were obtained from random sites on hog carcasses at 4 dressing stages (plant A: bleeding, dehairing, pasteurization, and evisceration; plant B: bleeding, skinning, evisceration, and washing) and from meat cuts. Numbers of genome copies (gc) of HEV, RV and PEC were determined by RT-qPCR. RV and PEC were detected in 100%, and 18% of samples, respectively, after bleeding for plant A and in 98%, and 36% of samples, respectively, after bleeding for plant B. After evisceration, RV and PEC were detected in 21% and 3% of samples, respectively, for plant A and in 1%, and 0% of samples, respectively for plant B. RV and PEC were detected on 1%, and 5% of pork cuts, respectively, for plant A and on 0%, and 0% of pork cuts, respectively, for plant B. HEV was not detected in any pork carcass or retail pork samples from plants A or B. The frequency of PEC and RV on pork is progressively reduced along the pork processing chain but the viruses were not completely eliminated. The findings suggest that consumers could be at risk when consuming undercooked meat contaminated with pathogenic enteric viruses.

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