Foodborne illnesses cost the country $152 billion per year

(March 3, 2010)—While the American economy struggles, acute foodborne illnesses hurt them more as it is costing the country approximately $152 billion per year in healthcare, and work place losses.
by Bernardo Lopez

According to Ohio State assistant professor Dr. Robert L. Scharff, writer of Health-Related Costs from Foodborne Illnesses, more than a quarter of these costs (around $39 billion) are attributable to foodborne illnesses with direct connections with fresh, processed and canned produce.

PSP director Jim O’Hara spoke about the FDA’s decision to propose a mandatory enforceable safety standard for the growing and harvesting of fresh produce, stating "An up-to-date cost analysis of foodborne illnesses is critical for FDA officials and lawmakers to craft the most effective and efficient reforms." O’Hara added, "A decade ago, we spent more than $1.3 billion annually to try to reduce the burden of food-borne illness and today we are spending even more. We need to make certain we are spending limited funds wisely and hitting our target of reducing sicknesses and deaths, and this study gives us a yardstick to measure our progress."

"The contribution of this study is that it provides more complete estimates of the health-related cost of foodborne illness in the United States by summing both medical costs (hospital services, physician services, and drugs) and quality-of-life losses (deaths, pain, suffering, and functional disability) for each of the major pathogens associated with foodborne illness," said Dr. Scharff. "This cost includes both expenses to the person made ill such as pain and suffering losses and costs to others in society such as outlays by insurance companies that pay medical expenses."

Find the original story here on

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Trend or fad? These restaurant currents could go either way

Reality Check: A number of ripples were evident in the business during the first half of the year. The question is, do they have staying power?


Starbucks' value offer is a bad idea

The Bottom Line: It’s not entirely clear that price is the reason Starbucks is losing traffic. If it isn’t, the company’s new value offer could backfire.


Struggling I Heart Mac and Cheese franchisees push back against their franchisor

Operators say most of them aren't making money and want a break on their royalties. But they also complain about receiving expired cheese from closed stores. "Don't send us moldy product."


More from our partners