The development of rapid and sensitive detection methods for human noroviruses (HuNoV) in produce items is critical, especially with the recent rise in outbreaks associated with this food commodity. In this study, 50-g portions of various produce items linked to a norovirus outbreak (celery, cucumber, lettuce, grapes, and radish) were artificially inoculated with murine norovirus (MNV-1) and concentrated either by ultracentrifugation or polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation after elution with an alkaline Tris–glycine–beef extract buffer supplemented with pectinase. As a viral concentration step following virus elution and clarification, ultracentrifugation yielded a faster method (<8 h, including reverse transcription quantitative PCR), with MNV-1 recoveries similar to or better, than those obtained with PEG precipitation. The addition of polyvinylpyrrolidone to the elution buffer, to remove polyphenolic inhibitors, improved MNV-1 recoveries by over two- and fivefold for cucumber and grapes, respectively. However, despite MNV-1 recoveries ranging from 10 to 38% as calculated with 10-fold diluted RNA, contaminating HuNoV was not detected in any of the outbreak-associated samples tested. For store-bought produce samples, the limit of detection for artificially seeded HuNoV GII.4 was determined to be 103 copies per 50 g, with reproducible detection achieved in grapes, radish, and celery. The results support the use of ultracentrifugation as an alternative approach to PEG precipitation to concentrate norovirus from a variety of produce items.

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