Economic burden from health losses due to foodborne illness in the United States

J Food Prot. 2012 Jan;75(1):123-31. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-11-058.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised their estimates for the annual number of foodborne illnesses; 48 million Americans suffer from domestically acquired foodborne illness associated with 31 identified pathogens and a broad category of unspecified agents. Consequently, economic studies based on the previous estimates are now obsolete. This study was conducted to provide improved and updated estimates of the cost of foodborne illness by adding a replication of the 2011 CDC model to existing cost-of-illness models. The basic cost-of-illness model includes economic estimates for medical costs, productivity losses, and illness-related mortality (based on hedonic value-of-statistical-life studies). The enhanced cost-of-illness model replaces the productivity loss estimates with a more inclusive pain, suffering, and functional disability measure based on monetized quality-adjusted life year estimates. Costs are estimated for each pathogen and a broader class of unknown pathogens. The addition of updated cost data and improvements to methodology enhanced the performance of each existing economic model. Uncertainty in these models was characterized using Monte Carlo simulations in @Risk version 5.5. With this model, the average cost per case of foodborne illness was $1,626 (90% credible interval [CI], $607 to $3,073) for the enhanced cost-of-illness model and $1,068 (90% CI, $683 to $1,646) for the basic model. The resulting aggregated annual cost of illness was $77.7 billion (90% CI, $28.6 to $144.6 billion) and $51.0 billion (90% CI, $31.2 to $76.1 billion) for the enhanced and basic models, respectively.

MeSH terms

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Disease Outbreaks / economics*
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data
  • Food Contamination / economics
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control
  • Foodborne Diseases / economics*
  • Foodborne Diseases / epidemiology
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Quality of Life
  • United States