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Bacterial Foodborne Disease: Medical Costs and Productivity Losses

by Jean C. Buzby, Tanya Roberts, C. T. Jordan Lin, and James MacDonald

Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER-741) 93 pp, August 1996

Microbial pathogens in food cause an estimated 6.5-33 million cases of human illness and up to 9,000 deaths in the United States each year. Over 40 different foodborne microbial pathogens, including fungi, viruses, parasites, and bacteria, are believed to cause human illnesses. For six bacterial pathogens, the costs of human illness are estimated to be $9.3-$12.9 billion annually. Of these costs, $2.9-$6.7 billion are attributed to foodborne bacteria. These estimates were developed to provide analytical support for USDA’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems rule for meat and poultry. (Note that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii is not included in this report.) To estimate medical costs and productivity losses, ERS uses four severity categories for acute illnesses: those who did not visit a physician, visited a physician, were hospitalized, or died prematurely. The lifetime consequences of chronic disease are included in the cost estimates for E. coli O157:H7 and fetal listeriosis.

Keywords: cost-of-illness, foodborne pathogens, lost productivity, medical costs

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Last updated: Sunday, June 03, 2012

For more information contact: Jean C. Buzby, Tanya Roberts, C. T. Jordan Lin, and James MacDonald

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