what is staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria that produces a heat-stable toxin that is therefore resistant to cooking and can persist and cause food poisoning after despite normal cooking procedures. This species of bacteria occurs naturally on the skin and nasal passages of about 15% of the world’s population, but can also be picked up from cross-contamination of raw foods (especially meat and poultry).

In line with our SANAS ISO 17025 accreditation requirements for continuous improvement, we are pleased to announce that we have enhanced our testing method for S.aureus. Since 2015 we have been able to detect far lower numbers of such colonies using this method, making the method far more sensitive. Furthermore, since the actual risk is the toxin and the organism can grow without producing it, or be killed off after producing it, the correlation between the presence of these microbes and the risk is not that clear, especially in foods.

A food could have the microbe (hence a positive microbiological result) and no toxin. Equally, a food (even a cooked food) could have the toxin but no microbes (a negative microbiological result). Testing directly for the toxin is not an economically feasible prospect.

In contrast, there is a clear potential risk for a positive result when these live organisms are present on hands because they may get into high risk foods, grow and produce the toxin. We therefore strongly urge you to focus on proper hand washing practices and ensure that your staff adhere to the correct frequency of hand washing.

The FCS Hygiene Audit is designed to evaluate the hygiene, sanitation, food safety and facilities in kitchens in the food service industry. Our audits are performed for clients in the hotel, gaming, restaurant, and catering industries, and are tailor made to the unique needs of each client.

Risk Based Reporting : The actual Hygiene Audit standards are based on SANS 10049, R638, international best practices, as well as FCS’s 40+ years of experience conducting hygiene audits. The FCS Hygiene Audit is a risk-based audit, and is designed to evaluate the risks in the kitchen.

Microbiological Evaluation : A microbiological evaluation of surface swabs, hand swabs, food samples and water samples forms part of the audit, and provides scientific evidence as to the food safety, hygiene and sanitation standards in the kitchen.

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