Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



The number one cause of food poisoning is enterotoxin produced by certain strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Knowledge of the conditions which inhibit enterotoxin production in foods is of great economic importance. Previous research on staphylococcal food poisoning has been concerned with the presence and growth of Staphylococcus aureus in foods. Until recently, little work has been done with detection of the toxin in foods, even though proof of responsibility for the poisoning depends on direct demonstration of enterotoxin in the food. Before research on enterotoxin production could be feasible a rapid method of detection was needed. Early detection techniques involved various serological gel-diffusion methods, which require two to seven days to yield results. A more rapid method was drastically needed. The fluorescent antibody technique (FAT) of Coons and Kaplan was applied to enterotoxin detection. However, application of the FAT to enterotoxin detection was unsuccessful until Stark and Middaugh developed a specific labeled antibody. Stark then applied the FAT to determine the effect of various individual environmental conditions on toxin production in Brain Heart Infusion (BHI) broth and shrimp slurry. The present study was undertaken (i) to apply the FAT as a rapid method for detection of staphylococcal enterotoxin in foods and (ii) to determine the effects of combinations of environmental conditions on toxin production by Staphylococcus aureus in foods which are notorious "reservoirs" for staphylococcal food poisoning. The results of this investigation should enable food producers to know what relationships of factors will inhibit toxin production and can incorporate them into their product preparation, packaging, and transport. Also, investigators of food poisoning cases should know under what combinations of conditions to expect toxin production in particular foods.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Food poisoning



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University