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    Plant-derived proteases, bromelain, papain, and ficin, are broad-acting enzymes with generally recognized as safe status for foods and have current application in several food industries. These proteases have also been reported to have antimicrobial properties. This study investigated the efficacy of commercially prepared bromelain, papain, and ficin, individually and combined (2,500 ppm of crude extract), for inactivation of hepatitis A virus (HAV) and human norovirus surrogates, Tulane virus (TV), and murine norovirus (MNV). Various treatment temperatures (45, 50, or 55°C), times (10 or 60 min), and pH values (5.5 or 7.0) in the presence of cysteine (2 mM) were evaluated. Inactivation was assessed by infectivity in plaque assay for TV and MNV and by median tissue culture infective dose for HAV. No reduction in infectious TV or HAV was attributed to the plant-derived proteases at any of the conditions tested. Infectious MNV was reduced by 1 to 3 log PFU/mL; the most effective treatment was bromelain at pH 7 and 50°C for 10 min. A time course study with MNV in bromelain at 50°C indicated that a 2-log PFU/mL reduction could be achieved within 6 min, but extended treatment of 15 min was still insufficient to eliminate infectious MNV. The lack of or limited efficacy of bromelain, papain, and ficin on HAV, TV, and MNV, even at elevated temperatures and exposure times, suggests the plant-derived proteases are not commercially applicable for inactivation of virus on commodities or materials that could not also withstand mild heat treatment. The variable susceptibilities observed between TV and MNV illustrate limitations in utilization of surrogates for predicting pathogen behavior for a structure-specific treatment. Copyright ©, International Association for Food Protection.


    Adrienne E H Shearer, Kalmia E Kniel. Effect of Plant-Derived Proteases on Infectivity of Tulane Virus, Murine Norovirus, and Hepatitis A Virus. Journal of food protection. 2021 Mar 01;84(3):418-423

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    PMID: 33125048

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