A Progressive Approach to the Problem of Foodborne Infections

Am J Public Health. 1977 Jan;67(1):44-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.67.1.44.


Qualitative and quantitative bacteriological examinations of 100 samples of perishable foods from 39 retail stores were performed to determine the presence of bacterial contaminants and to explore the feasibility of establishing and utilizing microbiological standards in enforcement. Forty-six per cent of the samples had standard plate counts in excess of 100,000 per gram, 17 per cent showed coliform organisms in excess of 100 per gram, 20 per cent revealed the presence of Staphylococcus aureus and 2 per cent Clostridium perfringens. None of the shell fish samples grew Vibrio parahaemolyticus. The bacteriological findings are discussed in relation to pertinent variables and the use of microbiological standards for potentially hazardous foods is explored. All 450 retail food establishments in a selected area of Western Suffolk County (New York) were subjected to comprehensive study, using a scoring system developed by the Food and Drug Administration. Initial inspections revealed 32 per cent as having one or more major violations. Follow-up inspections were performed to insure compliance and most violations were corrected within four weeks. Six months later all establishments were reinspected. The scoring system was found to have limited value. Half the establishments with major violations on initial inspection had major violations six months later as compared to less than a quarter of those with no initial major violation.

MeSH terms

  • Clostridium perfringens / isolation & purification
  • Food Handling / standards
  • Food Inspection
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Food Preservation / standards
  • Food Services / standards*
  • New York
  • Sanitation
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification
  • Temperature