Foodborne Illnesses Cost US $77 Billion a Year, Study Says

Foodborne illnesses, which make 48 million people sick and account for 3,000 deaths annually, also cost the nation $77 billion a year, a report from the American Association for Justice found.

And the group, which advocates for legal reforms, said food companies are only making the food supply more susceptible to contamination by continuing to industrialize their farming strategies.

“Factory farms’ intensive use of pharmaceuticals in livestock is associated with the rise of antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs,’ and the vast amounts of waste produced contaminates groundwater and nearby crops to the extent that leafy green vegetables, like spinach and lettuce, are now the second-most frequent cause of food-related hospitalizations and the fifth most frequent cause of food contamination death,” the report said.

But the report’s author, AAJ researcher David Ratcliff, said what’s so surprising is how often outbreaks of foodborne illnesses occur.

In the report, he highlights the Blue Bell Ice Cream listeria outbreak of 2015 that killed three people; the salmonella-contaminated chicken from Foster Farm, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said likely infected over 18,000 people; and the cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado that caused a listeria epidemic, killing 33 and infecting 147 people, to name a few.