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Staphylococcal Enterotoxins in Foods

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  • Staphylococcal Enterotoxins in Foods

Staphylococcal food poisoning is one of the most common disorders caused by consumption of enterotoxin-containing foods produced by enterotoxigenic staphylococci, especially Staphylococcus aureus.

Research shows that 20 to 40% of food poisoning is caused by staphylococcal enteretoxins. Enterotoxins, mostly produced by S.aureus, are heat-resistant, so it is important that ready-to-eat products are cooked well.
Apart from S. aureus, S. intermedius, S. hyicus and S. epidermidis species also form toxins.

Many food types, especially animal foods, cause toxin-induced food poisoning. Cattle, pork, turkey and chicken meat from cooked or undercooked food of animal origin, dairy products, especially milk powder and cheese, meat potato salad and other meat salads, fish and eggs, cream pastry products, milk, sugar and eggs frozen sauces are the main ones.

The first symptoms of staphylococcal food poisoning appear between 30 minutes and 8 hours. But in general, the symptoms of poisoning in the vast majority of people begin to appear within 2-4 hours. The most obvious symptoms of this intoxication are manifested by nausea, vomiting, severe cramps, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Headache, dizziness, general weakness, weak pulse, superficial respiration, shock and enteritis can also be observed. However, it is less common than other symptoms. It has been observed that the mortality rate due to staphylococcal food poisoning is very rare. However, most of the deaths occur in children and the elderly, and this rate is known to vary from 0.03% to 4.4%. Poisonings should not be ignored, even if there is a low risk of death.

Under what conditions does toxin occur?

Toxin formation is affected by organic and inorganic substances, enzymes, amino acids and water activity. The optimum temperature for the synthesis of toxin is 40-45C, so the conditions during cooking, storage, presentation, and, if so, when transported from place to place are very important. In foods containing small amounts of S.aureus, toxin formation can be observed with increasing amount of time. Therefore, care should be taken to preserve food.

More effective ways to prevent S.aureus's reproductive and toxin-producing ability for prevention and treatment are not yet known.

The effects of poisoning vary from person to person and usually resolve spontaneously in a few days without treatment. Foods that are fresh, cooked in suitable conditions, stored in suitable conditions, not stored in hot and humid conditions, stored under rapid cooling and served up to 85oC are always safer.

After signs of poisoning occur, the patient should be rested and the fluid lost must be met. Other than that there is not much to do. Meat is the most suitable medium for bacteria. The most common form of contamination is the transmission of S.aureus bacteria from the nose, throat or skin. Therefore, people working in places such as restaurants, cafeterias and production areas must comply with the health and hygiene rules correctly.
Foodstuffs should also be properly protected against any contamination. For example, they must be protected in closed containers and / or cold cabinets. In order to prevent such infections and not to endanger human health, it is very important to raise the awareness of employees on these issues. In order to avoid such situations, controls should be carried out in the workplaces and production areas, and the suitability of workers and equipment in contact with food should be checked. In the same way, the controls of the foods used should be done at regular intervals.

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