September 12, 2007: Wash Your Hands, Don’t Toss the Food and Other Helpful Hints Regarding Staph Food Poisoning

September 12th, 2007

During the summer of 1998, half of the 8000 people who attended a Catholic ordination celebration in Brazil became ill with food poisoning caused by Staphylococcus aureus. The cause of the outbreak was later traced to the food handlers, who tested positive for staph.

Over 1300 Texas elementary school children suffered from staph food poisoning after eating a school lunch of chicken salad. Even though the chickens used in the salad had been boiled for 3 hours, they became contaminated when they were subsequently deboned by food preparers.

Clearly, large numbers of people can fall victim to food poisoning caused by staphylococcal toxins, and diners are at the mercy of food preparers and handlers when it comes to staph contamination. In fact, foods that require a lot of handling during preparation are often implicated in staph food poisoning. Also, when food is kept warm after handling, that creates an environment in which staph bacteria can multiply.

Ham is the food most commonly linked with staph food poisoning, but the list also includes other meats and dairy products. Contaminated tuna, chicken, egg and “picnic” salads, such as potato and macaroni, may cause staph poisoning, as may cream-filled bakery items.

The food preparation step is implicated in staph contamination because staphylococcal bacteria can be found on the skin and in the nose and throat of over 50% of healthy individuals. When proper hygiene isn’t practiced the bacteria can be transferred to food and through food to the eater.

Before it can be determined if a handler or handlers have contaminated a particular dish, tests have to be done to find out whether a case of food poisoning has been caused by staph. For that reason, it is imperative that any food that may be linked to food poisoning NOT be thrown out. That food should be tested for the presence of staphylococci.

Even the most careful individuals can be harmed by food poisoning, but efforts can be made to reduce the risk. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following preventative measures:

  • Wash hands and under fingernails vigorously with soap and water before handling and preparing food.
  • Do not prepare food if you have a nose or eye infection.
  • Do not prepare or serve food for others if you have wounds or skin infections on your hands or wrists.
  • Keep kitchens and food-serving areas clean and sanitized.
  • If food is to be stored longer than two hours, keep hot foods hot (over 140°F) and cold foods cold (40°F or under).
  • Store cooked food in a wide, shallow container and refrigerate as soon as possible.

For more information about staph food poisoning, please visit the following pages of this website: “About Staphylococcus aureus” and “Common Symptoms and Complications.” You can also visit the website www.foodpoisoning.com for more information about this and other forms of food poisoning, as well as about recent food poisoning outbreaks.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by staph or any other form of food poisoning, and you would like to know more about your legal rights, you can contact the Law Offices of Eric H. Weinberg for a free case evaluation. You can also call us toll-free at 1-877-934-6274. For more information about our law firm, please visit www.erichweinberg.com.

For news on recent food poisoning outbreaks, please see Salmonella Pot Pies, Pot Pie Recall, Banquet Pot Pie Recall, and Topps Hamburger Recall. For information about the recent General Mills pizza recall, please visit any of our other sites dedicated to food poisoning law at Pizza Recall, Pizza E. coli, and E. coli Lawyer.

Entry Filed under: Recent Outbreaks and Food Recalls

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