To fill the knowledge gap on how effective free chlorine is against viral-contaminated produce, we inoculated the surfaces of outdoor-or greenhouse-grown kale and mustard with Rotavirus (RV) or a human norovirus surrogate (Tulane virus, TV) and then disinfected the leaves with free chlorine. Disinfection efficacies for RV strain OSU and Wa were approximately 1-log10 higher when attached to mustard than to kale. Similar disinfection efficacies were observed for TV attached to mustard or kale. When examining TV and RV OSU in suspension (not attached to leaf surfaces), TV was more resistant to free chlorine than RV OSU. Inactivation efficacies were higher for these viruses in suspension versus viruses attached to produce the surface. We also found that free chlorine damaged viral capsids, allowing free chlorine access to viral RNA to damage viral genomes. Exposure to free chlorine at 1.7 ppm over 1 min caused VP8∗ of RV OSU to lose its ability to bind to its host receptors. TV lost its ability to bind to its receptor only after exposure to free chlorine at 29 ppm over 1 min. Thus, to reduce foodborne viral infections, it is important to consider the differences in virus' reactivity and inactivation mechanisms with free chlorine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry