The Economic Burden of Foodborne Illness in the United States

  • Robert L. ScharffEmail author
Part of the Food Microbiology and Food Safety book series (FMFS)


Economic burden of foodborne illness estimates is an important measure for setting policy priorities and assessing the efficacy of potential interventions. This chapter presents estimates for the health-related cost of foodborne illness in the United States. Updated models and data are used to examine illness costs across a number of dimensions. Specifically, two alternative economic models (similar to alternative approaches used by major regulatory agencies in the United States) are employed to assess total cost and cost per case estimates at the national, state, and pathogen levels.

Similar to previous studies, the approach used here integrates a replication of CDC’s illnesses model with the economic models to produce estimates that reflect uncertainty in both illness model and economic model parameters. Monte Carlo analysis is used to incorporate parameter distributions across the combined model.

I estimate aggregate economic costs for all foodborne illnesses in the United States to be $60.9 billion (90% CI, $37.2–$90.8 billion) or $90.2 billion (90% CI, $34.2–$161.8 billion), depending on model used. The corresponding cost per case estimates are $1275 (90% CI, $805–$1970) and $1887 (90% CI, $720–$3492), respectively. These costs vary substantially across pathogens and states.


Cost of illness Economic impact Burden of illness Food safety Foodborne disease Foodborne illness 



Centers for Disease Control Research and Prevention/US


Cost of illness


Consumer Price Index


Food and Drug Administration/US


The International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision


National Inpatient Sample


National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System


National Outbreak Reporting System


Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis


National Molecular Subtyping Network for Foodborne Disease Surveillance


Quality-adjusted life year


Shiga-toxin E. coli


Value of a statistical life


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human SciencesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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