Hepatitis E virus can be present on pig farms in Quebec and in some foods containing pork liver.
This is revealed in a new study conducted by Laval University researchers.
Almost one-third of the tested liverworts and country bats contained traces of the virus.
After testing 83 bats and 79 pig livers, a team of Laval University researchers was able to confirm that the presence of hepatitis E virus RNA was indeed present in these products.
“It is a virus that can spread between meat and humans. For those who are vulnerable, this can have significant risks,” explained Julie Jean, professor at Laval University’s Department of Food Sciences.
In fact, 29% of bats and 4% of livers tested positive, which didn’t surprise the researchers.
“At the level of these animals, we suspected that the virus was spreading at the level of an intermediary pig,” Ms Jean said.
But the purpose of this analysis is not to make people worry, but rather to be cautious, the researcher reiterates, especially regarding the consumption of these foods that are not recommended for pregnant women.
Other studies on preparation and cooking processes will be carried out.
On the part of pig farmers and feed providers, they say they are willing to adapt if necessary.
“Of course our priority is food safety. If there are risks, we make changes,” said Dr. Sylvain Fournais, vice president of food safety and technical services at Olymel.
“Québec producers have always had a leadership role in food safety. Let’s make sure to support our producers,” said Louis-Philippe Roy, president of Éleveurs de porcs du Québec.
Watch the full report in the video above.
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