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Report shows high costs of foodborne illnesses

chicken salad.jpg

Several years ago I had the misfortune of being struck by campylobacteriosis. I've never been that sick before - it was just slightly less miserable than going through labor - and I eventually wound up being admitted to the ER, where I learned the culprit was likely a chicken-salad sandwich I had consumed a few days earlier. I was stunned and angry that something as seemingly benign as a sandwich (and something so tasty!) could cause so much suffering, and I've been interested in food safety issues ever since.

I paid close attention this morning, then, to a new report on foodborne illnesses from Georgetown University's Produce Safety Project. According to Ohio State University researcher Robert Scharff, PhD, a former FDA economist, illnesses like the one that knocked me down kill 5,000 people, send 325,000 to the hospital, and cost the country $152 billion each year. The figures are alarmingly high, and advocates want them to spur action on food-safety legislation currently being batted around Congress. I'm also hoping public officials will listen to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), sponsor of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, who told, "It's our job to go to war against foodborne illness... We can't afford to wait."

Photo by stevendepolo

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