other words, unlike a foodborne infection, a foodborne Intoxication results from a poison
(toxin) and not from the microorganism itself. The toxins do not change the appearance
or flavor of the food. Due to this, persons consuming the food are not aware that they
are eating something that can make them extremely ill. Some toxins can be easily
destroyed; others are difficult to destroy or to inactivate. The toxins produced by certain
strains of microorganisms can withstand boiling temperatures for long periods of time
and are virtually impossible to destroy by normal cooking methods.
b. There are three important foodborne intoxications:
(1) Those due to the toxin of staphylococcal bacteria.
(2) Those due to the toxin of Clostridium botulinum.
(3) Those due to the toxin of Clostridium perfrlngens.
STAPHYLOCOCCAL FOOD INTOXICATION
a. Outbreaks of foodborne illness are often caused by the toxin of a group of
bacteria called staphylococci. Most people are carriers of staphylococci, which are
natural inhabitants of our bodies and are found most frequently in the nose and on the
skin. Outbreaks of staphylococcal foodborne illness can be traced to food service
workers with nasal discharges, skin infections, or infected cuts or boils.
b. The foods commonly involved are cooked ham and other meats, and cream-
filled or custard-filled pastries. Salad-type foods, such as potato salad, ham salad, etc.,
and foods with a high protein content are also associated with staphylococcal food
c. The toxins produced by staphylococci can not be destroyed by normal
cooking temperature and time.
d. Persons made ill from eating food containing staphylococcal toxins will
usually become ill 1 to 6 hours after eating. They will experience nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Frequently, they will be so ill that they will be confined
to bed or even hospitalized. Although people usually recover from this illness, death
does sometimes occur. Persons In poor physical condition, the young, and the elderly
are at greater risk.
FOODBORNE INTOXICATION DUE TO CLOSTRIDIUM BOTULINUM
a. A toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum causes an
extremely serious illness commonly called botulism.