What We Should Know About Staphylococcus Aureus


          Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium commonly found in the nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, hair and skin of human but which does not cause any discomfort. It can also be found in large numbers in inflamed lesions or festered wounds. The bacterium grows under a temperature range of 7- 48°C and can be destroyed by normal cooking procedures. Yet, if bacteria-contaminated food is not stored at a proper temperature, the bacteria will multiply and produce toxins, which are highly heat-resistant and may survive, thus causing food poisoning.


What is staphylococcal food poisoning?

  1. Staphylococcal food poisoning is mainly caused by the consumption of food contaminated by toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus;
  2. The most common route of its transmission is via festered wounds that contain numerous bacteria. If a food processing worker do not bandage his hand’s festered wound properly, the food may become contaminated with the bacteria during food processing;
  3. The toxin-producing Staphylococcus aureus can multiply rapidly on manually processed foods which are not subsequently heated and on foods which are not properly stored, like salads, sandwich and ham;
  4. Staphylococcal food poisoning-infected persons are not contagious as the produced toxins will not be transmitted between humans. 

What are the symptoms of staphylococcal food poisoning?

  1. Upon consumption of staphylococcal contaminated food, the produced toxins act rapidly to cause symptoms to appear as soon as 30 minutes;
  2. The symptoms usually appear within 1 to 6 hours after consumption of contaminated food. In most cases, the victims suffer from nausea, vomiting, stomach spasms and diarrhea;
  3. The majority of victims usually recover within 1 to 3 days, while some of them may suffer from severe conditions.

How to prevent staphylococcal food poisoning?

The best preventive measure is to avoid food being contaminated by Staphylococcus aureus.

  1. Wash hands thoroughly before and after food handling;
  2. Staffs suffering from respiratory tract infection, eye infection or having festered wounds should not handle food;
  3. Staffs with wounds on skin or hands should be dressed properly to avoid direct contacting with food;
  4. Food must be cooked thoroughly during the preparation process;
  5. Keep the kitchen clean, hygienic and have it disinfected regularly;
  6. If foods are to be kept for over 2 hours, hot food should be stored above 60 and cold food below 5;
  7. Try to reduce the time for handling food (Reduce the food handling time);
  8. Food must be handled properly, well-stored and thoroughly cooked. Food should not be left at room temperature for too long and should be stored in the refrigerator immediately.