The available information on foodborne diseases reported in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia between January 1982 and December 1986 was examined. Ninety incidents and 1,531 cases of foodborne diseases were reported during the study period. The average number of incidents and cases per 100,000 population were 1.3 and 22.4, respectively. Saudis were involved in small incidents in which the food was probably mishandled at private homes. The expatriates, who were mostly workers of Indian or Southeast Asian origin, constituted the majority of cases of relatively large foodborne outbreaks in which the food was probably mishandled in their camps. Dairy foods, meat, and chicken were the foods most frequently reported in association with foodborne diseases (36, 30, and 22.2% of incidents, respectively). Staphylococcus aureus was the agent or the suspect agent of more incidents than Salmonella spp. Insufficient cooking and improper storage were the main factors suspected of contributing to incidents (17.8 and 13.3%, respectively). Although a general view can be drawn from the available data, more information on foodborne diseases in the Eastern province is needed.

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