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Foodborne Illnesses and Symptoms

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Foodborne illness is considered a major public health problem. The United States has a safe food supply. However, food can still become contaminated and cause illness. In 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 76 million cases of foodborne illness occurred each year in the United States. While most foodborne illness are not-life threatening, CDC estimates that there are 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths related to foodborne illness each year. Seniors, young children, pregnant women and the immune-compromised are particularly vulnerable to foodborne illness.

Should a person become ill and show symptoms that suggest a foodborne illness, health authorities should be notified. Only trained health officials with the proper tools can accurately diagnose foodborne illness. The links below provide facts on different types of foodborne diseases and pathogens, the microorganisms that cause disease.

Foodborne illness can occur in any foodservice operation. Therefore, food safety training is essential for employees in all foodservice operations. Good food safety habits practiced on a routine basis are an important part of preventing foodborne illness.

Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator
When people get sick from consuming contaminated food or beverages, "costs" include medical productivity, disutility and more. Policymakers use the technical process of cost-benefit estimation to help them formulate food safety policies and prioritize food safety spending. This tool provides an interactive exploration of how cost analysis for foodborne illness works.

USDA Economic Research Service Foodborne Illness Briefing Room
This briefing room contains technical information on the epidemiology and economic consequences of foodborne disease, including both general methods and statistics and those specific to particular pathogens. Recommended readings and links to recent research are listed.


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