Viral infections transmitted by food of animal origin: the present situation in the European Union
The goal of this presentation was to clarify which foods are involved in viral diseases, which viruses are transmitted via food and how to evaluate the risk of a foodborne viral infection. Food items frequently identified as cause of viral disease outbreaks were shellfish harvested in sewage-contaminated water. Another common source of foodborne viral illness was cold food contaminated by infected food handlers. In the European Union the viruses most frequently associated with foodborne illness were hepatitis A virus and the SRSV’s. A few isolated cases of foodborne hepatitis E were reported in Mediterranean countries. Compared to other foodborne diseases, those caused by viruses are less severe and seldom fatal. This might be a reason why the problem of viral contamination of food has been neglected. Yet, because many foodborne viral diseases are not recognized either as foodborne or as caused by viruses, the actual number of cases must be assumed to be significantly higher than the reported number. Consequently, food associated diseases of viral origin should be granted more attention.
KeywordsFood Handler Viral Gastroenteritis Foodborne Disease Foodborne Illness Viral Contamination
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