"Study: Food-Borne Illnesses Cost US $152 Billion"

"YAKIMA, Wash. -- Food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli and salmonella, cost the United States $152 billion annually in health care and other losses, according to a report released Wednesday by a food safety group.

The report comes as the U.S. Senate considers legislation that would require more government inspections of food manufacturers and give the Food and Drug Administration new authority to order recalls, among other things. The House passed a similar bill last year.

The government estimates 76 million people each year are sickened by food-borne illness, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and about 5,000 die. Recent outbreaks have resulted in large recalls of peanuts, spinach and peppers.

The financial cost determined in the new report published by the Produce Safety Project, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, was significantly higher than the $35 billion reported by the Agriculture Department in 1997."

Shannon Dininny reports for the Associated Press March 3, 2010.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010