Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark 19716.
Produce can become contaminated with human viral pathogens in the field through soil, feces, or water used for irrigation; through application of manure, biosolids, pesticides, and fertilizers; and through dust, insects, and animals. The objective of this study was to assess the survival and stability of human noroviruses and norovirus surrogates (Murine norovirus [MNV] and Tulane virus [TV]) on foliar surfaces of spinach plants in preharvest growth conditions. Spinach plants were housed in a biocontrol chamber at optimal conditions for up to 7 days and infectivity was determined by plaque assay. Virus inoculation location had the largest impact on virus survival as viruses present on adaxial leaf surfaces had lower decimal reduction time (D values) than viruses present on abaxial leaf surfaces. Under certain conditions, spinach type impacted virus survival, with greater D values observed from survival on semi-savoy spinach leaves. Additional UVA and UVB exposure to mimic sunlight affected virus survival on adaxial surfaces for both semi-savoy and smooth spinach plants for both viruses. Human GII norovirus inoculated onto semi-savoy spinach had an average D value that was not statistically significant from MNV and TV, suggesting that these surrogates may have similar survival on spinach leaves compared with human noroviruses. An understanding of the behavior of enteric viruses on spinach leaves can be used to enhance growers' guidelines and for risk assessment with certain growing conditions.