Q Laboratories is the first United States-based laboratory to include Norovirus and Hepatitis A testing in food, water and environmental samples listed on their ISO 17025 Scope of Accredited Methods. An A2LA Assessor was onsite at Q Laboratories on June 15 to evaluate the rapid, qualitative methods and facilities used to screen for the viruses. Based on this assessment, the methods were approved for Q Laboratories’ Scope of Accreditation.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Norovirus causes 19–21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis, leads to 1.7–1.9 million outpatient visits and 400,000 emergency department visits, primarily in young children, and contributes to about 56,000–71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths, mostly among young children and the elderly. Hepatitis A causes approximately 1400 illnesses per 100,000 people annually in the US, according to CDC statistics.
Q Laboratories’ Chief Scientific Officer, Erin Crowley stated, “ISO Accreditation of our virus methodologies is a significant step forward in providing a high level of quality and confidence in testing for food-borne viruses. We are fortunate to have had the feedback from clients and industry partners that expanding our ISO scope to include such methods provides substantial added value for our company.”
Norovirus often falls under the diagnosis of “stomach flu” but for those with compromised or weak immune systems can be very dangerous, as can Hepatitis A.
Foods commonly associated with Norovirus and Hepatitis A contamination are raw seafood, fresh produce, frozen fruits and berries, and many ready-to-eat products. Process water is also frequently the cause of contamination.