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Evaluation of Heating Conditions for Inactivation of Hepatitis E Virus Genotypes 3 and 4

Imagawa, Toshifumi, Sugiyama, Ryuichi, Shiota, Tomoyuki, Li, Tian-Cheng, Yoshizaki, Sayaka, Wakita, Takaji, Ishii, Koji
Journal of food protection 2018 v.81 no.6 pp. 947-952
Hepatitis E virus, RNA, boiling, cell culture, developed countries, foodborne illness, genome, genotype, heat, heat stability, hepatitis, humans, inoculum, internal temperature, liver, livestock, minced pork, risk, roasting
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a causative agent of acute hepatitis throughout the world. HEV genotypes 1 through 4 infect humans, whereas genotypes 3 and 4 (Gt3 and Gt4) also infect other animals. In developed countries, the main HEV infection route is by foodborne transmission, resulting from the consumption of undercooked meat. It is important to know the criteria for HEV control in daily cooking. In this study, we assessed the heat conditions required to inactivate HEV Gt3 and Gt4 in culture supernatants and spiked minced pork meat. HEV inactivation was determined by measuring viral RNA amplification in PLC/PRF/5 cell culture. In our cell culture assay, an inoculum containing HEV titer that is equivalent to >105 genome RNA copies can be determined as infectious. The internal temperature of pork during heating was measured to represent that achieved during cooking. Both HEV Gt3 and Gt4 were inactivated in culture supernatants heated at >65°C for 5 min and at >80°C for 1 min and in minced meat at 70°C for 5 min. Inoculated culture supernatant contained 108 HEV genome RNA copies (103 infectious units [IU]); therefore, it was indicated that HEV titer decreased >3 log IU after heating. In a comparison of Gt3 and Gt4, Gt4 showed slightly greater heat stability than Gt3. Boiling showed superior heating efficacy compared with roasting, and pork liver was slightly easier to heat than pork loin. Heating for 5 min by both boiling and roasting increased the internal temperature of pork products to more than 70°C. Although our data revealed that HEV Gt4 was slightly more heat stable than Gt3, both genotypes were inactivated by the appropriate heating conditions. Therefore, the risk of HEV foodborne infection could be mitigated by the appropriate cooking of pork meat. It is also important that both the supplier and the consumer are cognizant of the risk of HEV foodborne infection from livestock products.