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J Food Prot. 2007 May;70(5):1153-8.

Occurrence of toxigenic Staphylococcus aureus in ready-to-eat food in Korea.

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Food Safety Research Division, Korea Food Research Institute, Songnam, Kyunggi-do, 463-746, Korea.


Toxigenic Staphylococcus aureus contamination in ready-to-eat (RTE) food is a leading cause of foodborne illness in Korea. To monitor food contamination by S. aureus, a total of 3332 RTE food samples were selected from nationwide wholesale marts between 2003 and 2004 and examined. A total of 285 (8.6%) of the overall samples were contaminated by S. aureus. According to the analysis, 31.6% of the tested cream-cakes, 19.8% of the raw fish, and 19.3% of the rice cakes with filling were contaminated with S. aureus. Forty-seven percent of the strains isolated from the contaminated food were enterotoxigenic S. aureus. The phenotypic result of the strain isolated from food showed that 48% of the strains produced one or more toxins, such as staphylococcal enterotoxins A, B, and C (SEA, SEB, and SEC). At least one SEA was produced by over 90% of the toxigenic strains. Other toxins, such as SEB, SEC, SED, SEA+SEC, and SEC+SED, were each detected. Toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1), a causative agent of toxic shock syndrome, was detected in 13 strains of the toxigenic isolates from the food. As the result of genotyping, 22 strains with a toxin gene that was not detected in the phenotypic analysis were also detected. Sixty-nine percent of the toxigenic strains had at least one sea gene, and the most prevalent genotype was sea+seh (34.4%), followed by sea (18.8%) and sea+seg+sei (15.6%). The tst gene encoding TSST-1 was found in 13 strains (13.5%). The genes (eta and etb) encoding exfoliative toxins A and B were not detected in any of the samples.

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