poisoning is a type of
food poisoning caused by infection with the
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus)
bacterium. The bacteria multiply in foods and produce toxins especially if food is kept at room temperature. The toxins may be present in dangerous amounts in
foods that have no signs of spoilage, such as a bad smell.
What causes staph food poisoning?
Most people get
staph poisoning by eating contaminated food. The most common reason for
contamination is that the food has not been kept hot enough [140°F (60°C) or above] or cold enough
[40°F (4°C) or below].
Foods that are associated with staph food poisoning include:
Poultry and egg
Salads such as egg, tuna, chicken, potato, and
Bakery products such as cream-filled pastries, cream
pies, and chocolate eclairs.
and dairy products.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of staph food
poisoning include nausea, vomiting, retching, stomach cramping, and diarrhea.
In more severe cases, dehydration, headache, muscle cramping, and changes in
blood pressure and pulse rate may occur.
Symptoms typically come on quickly. How severe they are depends on your
susceptibility to the toxin, how much contaminated
food you ate, how much of the toxin you ingested, and your general health. The
condition is typically over in 2 days. But it is not unusual for complete
recovery to take 3 days and sometimes longer in severe cases.
How is staph food poisoning diagnosed?
poisoning is diagnosed based on a medical history and a physical exam. Your
doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, your work and
home environments, and foods you have recently eaten and whether other people
have become ill from eating the same things. A stool culture and blood tests
may be done if your symptoms are severe or to rule out other causes.
How is it treated?
You treat staph food poisoning
by managing any complications until it passes.
Dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting is the
most common complication. Do not use medicines, including antibiotics and other
treatments, unless your doctor recommends them.
prevent dehydration, take frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte). Try to drink a cup of water or rehydration drink
for each large, loose stool you have. Soda and fruit juices have too much sugar and not enough of the
electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea, and they
should not be used to rehydrate.
Try to stay with your usual diet
as much as possible. Eating your usual diet will help you to get enough
nutrition. Doctors believe that eating a normal diet will also help you feel
better faster. But try to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Also
avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee for 2 days after all symptoms have
How can you prevent staph food poisoning?
following steps can help prevent staph food poisoning (adapted from the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Shop safely. Bag raw meat, poultry, or fish
separately from other food items. Drive home immediately after finishing your
shopping so that you can store all foods properly.
safely. Wash your hands before and after handling food. Also wash them after
using the bathroom or changing diapers. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables by
rinsing them well with running water. If possible, use two cutting boards—one
for fresh produce and the other for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. You can
also wash your knives and cutting boards in the dishwasher to disinfect
Store foods safely. Cook, refrigerate, or freeze meat,
poultry, eggs, fish, and ready-to-eat foods within 2 hours. Make sure your
refrigerator is set at
40°F (4°C) or colder.
Serve foods safely. Keep
cooked hot foods hot [140°F (60°C) or above] and cold foods cold [40°F (4°C) or below].
Follow labels on food packaging.
Food packaging labels provide information about when to use the food and how to
store it. Reading food labels and following safety instructions will reduce
your chances of becoming ill with food poisoning.
When in doubt,
throw it out. If you are not sure whether a food is safe, don't eat it.
Reheating food that is contaminated will not make it safe. Don't taste
suspicious food. It may smell and look fine but still may not be safe to
It is important to pay particular attention to food
preparation and storage during warm months when food is often served outside.
Bacteria grow faster in warmer weather, so food can spoil more quickly and
possibly cause illness. Do not leave food outdoors for more than 1 hour if the
temperature is above 90°F (32°C), and never leave it outdoors for more than 2 hours.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.