Foodborne viruses are among the leading causes for foodborne illnesses worldwide. That has long been suspected, but was only recently been followed up due to development of new detection techniques (mainly PCR based). However, although PCR techniques are capable of detecting nucleic acids they don`t answer the question of viral infectivity. In general, presence of viral nucleic acids potentially indicate contamination upstream in the food chain, i.e. before that moment of testing, but makes final conclusions and adequate actions difficult to target to the correct point in the food chain. New technologies to detect infective viral particles are being developed, but currently not suitable for routine usage. All of them also suffer from limitations in recovery rates from food matrixes, where still a lot of work needs to be done. An overview of current methods will be presented in view of their advantages and limitations.
The limitations in methods and difficulties in growing viruses also limit the validation of potential control options. However, based on historical data / outbreak information and ongoing research our knowledge increased significantly in the last 10 years, providing insights into viral susceptibilities and resistances to processes / cleaning and disinfection practices used in the food industry.
In order to address the risks associated with viruses and to be able to define adequate control measures, risk assessments are increasingly used and also accepted by governments as a measure to ensure food safety. There are different ways to perform risk assessments – e.g. starting from epidemiology or from the food in question, quantitative or qualitative – where the choice will depend on the purpose of the risk assessment. Some examples of these will be discussed in the presentation.
Anett Winkler joined Kraft Jacobs Suchard in December 1998 to head up the research microbiology laboratory in Munich. Later on Anett concentrated on chocolate, biscuits and other low moisture foods including supplier developments and approvals. She also consolidated the scientific basis for microbiological process controls in low moisture foods by performing validation studies for nut & cocoa processing. Following a regional role for Microbiology in the Eastern European, Middle East & African Region she was globally designing food safety programs, rolling out training modules related to food safety and further supporting supplier development. Anett was also the global expert for thermal processing within Mondelez International.
In October 2017 Anett moved to a new position as “EMEA Regional Food Microbiologist Lead” at Cargill.