Thermal processing of live bivalve molluscs for controlling viruses: On the need for a risk-based design

Winy Messens, Pablo S Fernandez-Escamez, David Lees, Roland Lindqvist, Michael O'Mahony, Elisabetta Suffredini, José Cortiñas Abrahantes, Emmanouil Chantzis, Kostas Koutsoumanis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Norovirus (NoV) and Hepatitis A virus (HAV) are the most important viral hazards associated with human illness following consumption of contaminated bivalve molluscs. The effectiveness of the current EU criteria for heat processing of bivalve molluscs (i.e. raising the temperature of the internal mollusc flesh to at least 90°C for a minimum of 90 seconds) was evaluated using predictive microbiology. A HAV thermal inactivation model was developed based on literature data in mollusc matrices during isothermal heat treatment. Application of the developed model demonstrated that the 90°C-90 s requirement may lead to significantly different virus inactivation depending on the commercial process design. This shows the need for the establishment of a Performance Criterion for bivalve molluscs heat processing which will assure a common specified level of consumer protection. A risk-based approach is described that allows for an effective processing design providing a more transparent and objective relation between the thermal processing targets and public health. Model simulations demonstrate that the F-value is a more appropriate Process Criterion than a single time-temperature combination since it enables the food business operators to design a process that is compliant with the safety requirements while at the same time achieving a desired product quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jul 19 2017


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