The report released today by the Produce Safety Project, a food safety group, examined government data on all food-borne illnesses with a known cause, such as E. coli and salmonella, as well as illnesses with no known cause.
The study also looked at a broad set of costs that included medical care and quality of life losses, such as pain and suffering and death. Its author is Ohio State assistant professor of consumer sciences Robert Scharff, a former economist for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The study also found:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.
For every foodborne illness case that is reported, as many as 40 more illnesses are not reported or lab-confirmed.
More than 30 million people in the United States are likely to be particularly susceptible to foodborne disease. Very young, elderly, and immune-compromised persons experience the most serious foodborne illnesses.
It is estimated that chronic, secondary complications resulting from foodborne illness occur in 2-3 percent of cases.
The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the annual costs of medical care, productivity losses, and premature deaths due to foodborne illnesses caused by the five major pathogens to be $6.9 billion.