Potential application of high hydrostatic pressure processing (HPP) as a method for virus inactivation was evaluated. A 7-log10 PFU/ml hepatitis A virus (HAV) stock, in tissue culture medium, was reduced to nondetectable levels after exposure to more than 450 MPa of pressure for 5 min. Titers of HAV were reduced in a time- and pressure-dependent manner between 300 and 450 MPa. In contrast, poliovirus titer was unaffected by a 5-min treatment at 600 MPa. Dilution of HAV in seawater increased the pressure resistance of HAV, suggesting a protective effect of salts on virus inactivation. RNase protection experiments indicated that viral capsids may remain intact during pressure treatment, suggesting that inactivation was due to subtle alterations of viral capsid proteins. A 7-log10 tissue culture infectious dose for 50% of the cultures per ml of feline calicivirus, a Norwalk virus surrogate, was completely inactivated after 5-min treatments with 275 MPa or more. These data show that HAV and a Norwalk virus surrogate can be inactivated by HPP and suggest that HPP may be capable of rendering potentially contaminated raw shellfish free of infectious viruses.

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