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Food poisoning costs the U.S. billions of dollars a year, report says

April 28, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
  • An inspector checks eggs at Armstrong Egg Farms in Valley Center, Calif.
An inspector checks eggs at Armstrong Egg Farms in Valley Center, Calif. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

If you thought food poisoning was just a gruesome but passing affliction, think again -- according to a report published Thursday, just 14 different pathogens cost the United States $14 billion annually in terms of human disease.

The report, released by the University of Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute, found that out of all the pathogen-food combinations they studied, campylobacter in poultry was the single worst offender, causing more than 600,000 illnesses per year, hospitalizing more than 7,000 people and costing, annually, $1.3 billion and 9,500 quality-of-life years.

The top 10 pathogen-food combinations, which involve campylobacter, salmonella, listeria monocytogenes, toxoplasma gondii and norovirus in various foodstuffs, cost more than $8 billion in direct medical costs and lost wages.

Among its recommendations, the report advises toughening current standards for campylobacter and salmonella in turkey and chicken, because as they stand, they don't go far enough to reduce the number of illnesses.

Want to keep yourself from becoming part of these statistics? The Mayo Clinic provides some tips.

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