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Report: Food-Borne Illnesses Cost U.S. $152 Billion Annually

According to a report published today by the Produce Safety Project, acute food-borne illnesses cost the U.S. $152 billion each year.

a pile of canned food

Photo: isorija

Fresh, canned and processed produce account for a significant number of the reported illnesses documented in Dr. Sharff's study.

A report published today by Georgetown University’s Produce Safety Project reveals the economic repercussions of food-borne illnesses in the U.S..

The study, conducted by Dr. Robert L. Scharff, a former FDA economist and current Ohio State University assistant professor of consumer studies, found that the U.S. spends a staggering $152 billion a year on acute food-borne illnesses.

This total cost factors in the combined costs of healthcare, workplace and other economic losses.

In addition, Dr. Scharff’s study found that nearly $39 billion of this total was due to illnesses related to fresh, canned and processed produce.

Further Losses At The State Level

The report also includes the economic losses at the state level and you can access an interactive map that shows state-by-state costs due to food-borne illnesses.

California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania suffer the most, according to the study.

The Produce Safety Project commissioned this report in the hopes of prompting stricter food safety regulation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Project Director Jim O’Hara said:

An up-to-date cost analysis of foodborne illnesses is critical for FDA officials and lawmakers to craft the most effective and efficient reforms. 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.

Learn More: read the entire study at

Laura Bult

Laura Bult is a spring intern with Earth Eats and a senior at Indiana University majoring in International Studies, with minors in English Literature and Spanish.

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