Staphylococcal food poisoning (SFP)- Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxins

Staphylococcal food poisoning (SFP) is a type of foodborne illness that occurs when people consume food contaminated with toxins produced by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (Staph). Staph is a common bacterium that can be found on the skin, in the nose, and in the environment of about 25% of people and animals. Staph usually does not cause any harm to healthy people, but it can produce toxins that are resistant to heat and digestion and can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

The main source of contamination of SFP is the improper handling of food by people who carry Staph on their hands or in their nose. Staph can transfer to food if people do not wash their hands before touching it, or if they cough or sneeze on it. Staph can also contaminate food through contact with contaminated equipment, such as knives or meat grinders. Staph can grow and produce toxins in foods that are not cooked after handling, or that are left at room temperature for more than two hours. Foods that are frequently involved in SFP outbreaks include meat and meat products, poultry and egg products, milk and dairy products, salads, pastries, sandwiches, ice creams, and salted foods.