The EFSA Biohazards Panel published its Scientific Opinion viruses in the food chain in July 2011. this was an update on the present knowledge on the occurrence and control of foodborne viruses.
In response to an approach from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), EFSA was also asked to provide a specific Scientific Opinion on norovirus in shellfish, taking into account current detection methods and control options. A second EFSA opinion, called the Scientific Opinion on Norovirus (NoV) in oysters: methods, limits and control options, was published in January 2012.
EFSA has identified that removal of viral contamination is extremely difficult. It therefore recommends that the focus on control of viruses in the food chain needs to be based on preventing contamination and cross-contamination of food. Other key recommendations include the possible introduction of microbiological criteria for norovirus in shellfish and for classification of shellfish harvesting areas to consider viruses.
EFSA has also highlighted the need for more data. This includes a baseline survey to establish the prevalence of norovirus in oysters across Europe and to further investigate the infectious dose in food.
A Working Group of member states with a particular interest in shellfish has been established. Member states are currently carrying out further discussions on the recommendations from these opinions and potential risk management options.
The Scientific Opinions can be found via the 'External sites' links.