Micrococcic (staphylococcic) food poisoning is caused by a toxin formed in food before ingestion. In the United States it is probably the most common of all food poisonings. Since micrococcic food poisoning is not a reportable disease, the precise number of cases occurring annually is unknown, although it is reasonable to assume that at least several hundred food poisoning outbreaks take place yearly. Many outbreaks are reported following banquets, encampments, church suppers, and other occasions where food is prepared in large quantities and held without adequate refrigeration for several hours before being served.
While the relation of micrococci to foods implicated in this type of food poisoning has been known for 70 years, micrococcic food poisoning was not generally recognized until 1930. According to Feig,1 Micrococcus pyogenes var. aureus (Staphylococcus) is the principal causative organism of food poisoning, and the principal sources of food poisoning in proportion to the