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Epidemiol Infect. 1993 Jun;110(3):519-31.

Staphylococcal food poisoning in the United Kingdom, 1969-90.

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PHLS Food Hygiene Laboratory, Central Public Health Laboratory, London.


Between 1969 and 1990 strains of Staphylococcus aureus from 359 outbreaks and sporadic cases of staphylococcal food poisoning in the United Kingdom were examined in the PHLS Food Hygiene Laboratory for the production of enterotoxin. In a number of instances the incriminated foods were also examined for the presence of enterotoxin. Strains from 79% of incidents produced enterotoxin A alone or together with another enterotoxin. The level of S. aureus present in the foods ranged from no viable S. aureus detected to 1.5 x 10(10) c.f.u./g with a median of 3.0 x 10(7) c.f.u./g. Enterotoxin was detected in foods in the absence of viable S. aureus in only two outbreaks and in both cheese was the implicated food. Meat, poultry or their products were the vehicle in 75% of incidents with ham and chicken most frequently implicated. Other foods included fish and shellfish (7%) and milk and milk products (8%). Most contamination took place in the home followed by restaurants and shops. Seventy-one percent of the incident strains were lysed by phages of group III or I/III.

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