Preliminary study for evaluation of avian influenza virus inactivation in contaminated poultry products using electron beam irradiation.
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Spread of avian influenza is associated with movement of infected poultry and poultry products, and, as a result, strict international trade restrictions are in place. In addition, the possibility of transmission of avian influenza virus (AIV) strains to mammalian species by the consumption or handling of infected poultry, although a rare occurrence, is an important trade concern. Traditional methods for poultry product decontamination, such as thermal processing, are effective in inactivating AIV. However, alternative technologies such as electron beam (E-beam) irradiation offer some advantages in maintaining organoleptic properties of fresh poultry products. This study was designed to evaluate the applicability of high-energy (10 MeV) E-beam irradiation to inactivate AIV and reduce virus loads in egg products and poultry meat. Commercially available egg-white and ground turkey meat samples were spiked with the low-pathogenic A/chicken/TX/2002 H5N3 AIV and exposed to varying doses of high-energy E-beam irradiation in increments ranging from 0 kGy to 8 kGy. The viral titres in irradiated samples showed a linear dose-dependent reduction. The dose required to achieve 90% reduction (i.e. the D (10) value) of viable AIV loads was 2.3 kGy in phosphate buffer, 1.6 kGy in egg-white and 2.6 kGy in ground turkey meat samples. The effectiveness of E-beam irradiation to inactivate AIV was similar to the previously reported effectiveness of the E-beam against poliovirus and rotavirus. These results illustrate the potential applicability of high-energy (10 MeV) E-beam irradiation as a poultry product decontamination technology to inactivate AIV.