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Monitoring of pork liver and meat products on the Dutch market for the presence of HEV RNA

Boxman, Ingeborg L.A., Jansen, Claudia C.C., Hägele, Geke, Zwartkruis-Nahuis, Ans, Tijsma, Aloys S.L., Vennema, Harry
International journal of food microbiology 2019
Orthohepevirus A, pork, sequence analysis, liver, at-risk population, monitoring, liver sausage, geography, wild boars, genotype, chops, heat treatment, RNA, markets, ready-to-eat foods
The aim of the present study was to assess pork liver and meat products present on the Dutch market for the presence of hepatitis E virus (HEV) RNA. HEV RNA was detected in 27.3% of 521 products sampled from Dutch retail stores in 2016. 12.7% of livers were positive for HEV RNA (n = 79), 70.7% of liverwurst (n = 99), 68.9% of liver pate (n = 90), but in none of the pork chops (n = 98), fresh sausages (n = 103) or wild boar meat (n = 52). The highest level of HEV RNA contamination was observed in a liver (reaching up to 1 × 106 copies/g), followed by ready to eat liverwurst and liver pate (up to 3 × 104 copies/g and 7 × 104 copies/g respectively). Sequence analyses revealed mainly genotype 3c, but also some 3a, 3e and 3f strains. One strain derived from a liver sample was 100% (493 nt) identical with one isolated from a HEV case with onset of disease close in time and geography, although no direct epidemiological link could be established. Despite liverwurst and liver pate undergo heat treatment (information dd. Mid 2017) that may be sufficient to inactivate HEV, persons at risk, including Dutch transplant recipients, have been advised to avoid the consumption of raw liver as well as liverwurst and liver pate.