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Food Poisoning Cost 3 Billion Annually – Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 Alone

The USDA, on a new website on May 13, unveiled a cost of food poisoning calculator.  To date, the only two pathogens with reported yearly costs estimates are Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7.  The combined cost estimate for those two?  In excess of $3 Billion. 

According to the USDA, the estimates "include assumptions about disease incidence, outcome severity, and the level of medical, productivity, and disutility costs."  The calculator allows a user to input different assumptions and see how the total cost would be affected. 

The calculator will apparently be updated in the future to include additional pathogens and estimates, including Campylobacter, Listeria, and non-O157:H7 strains of shiga toxin producing E. coli. 

The site estimates the number of non-O157:H7 E. coli illnesses at over 31,000 annually.  An example of such a pathogen is E. coli O145, the cause of an recent outbreak of illness connected to romaine lettuce.