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Electron-beam pasteurization of raw oysters may reduce viral food poisoning
Date:4/30/2013

es the safety of our product," said Sal Sunseri, co-owner of P&J Oysters and a representative of the Louisiana Oyster Dealers and Growers Association. "While we provide a safe product, we know there are at-risk groups, and that processing methods like freezing, high-pressure treatment and electron-beam irradiation reduce or eliminate the risk for those groups and enhance the overall safety of our product."

At this time, however, electron-beam technology is not being used for commercial oysters sold in the U.S.

"For the study, we chose the norovirus and hepatitis A virus, as these are pathogenic threats to those consuming shellfish, and chose oysters as they are a type of mollusk that's more commonly eaten raw," said Praveen, a doctoral candidate in the toxicology program of the Food Safety and Environmental Microbiology Laboratory at Texas A&M.

Praveen said she and the other researchers also chose the viral pathogens as opposed to bacterial as they were more difficult to treat and also require a host species.

"Bivalves such as oysters are also filter feeders that obtain their food by pumping water through their system and filtering small organisms," she said. "This can lead to the possible accumulation of NoV and HAV viral pathogens, as well as bacterial pathogens."

Pillai said non-thermal food processing technologies are needed to reduce these infection risks.

"This is the first study that has attempted to quantify the reduction in infection risks of raw oysters contaminated with different levels of virus when pasteurized at FDA-approved doses," he said.

Pillai said that the study showed if a serving size of 12 raw oysters were contaminated with approximately 100 hepatitis A and human noroviruses, an e-beam dose of 5 kGy (kilograys) would achieve a 91 percent reduction of hepatitis A infection risks and a 26 percent reduction of norovirus infection risks. A kilogray is a unit of absorbed energy from ion
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Contact: Dr. Suresh Pillai
s-pillai@tamu.edu
979-458-1640
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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