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Costs of major foodborne illnesses in the United States increased to $17.6 billion in 2018

Monday, June 21, 2021

The USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) estimates that inflation and income growth drove up the costs resulting from 15 foodborne illnesses in the United States by $2 billion from $15.5 billion in 2013 to $17.6 billion in 2018. For this estimate, ERS included medical care costs, the value of lost earnings, and a monetary measure of death based on individuals' willingness to pay to reduce the risk of dying from foodborne illness. The biggest factor behind the increase in the overall costs of foodborne illnesses was the effect of inflation and income growth on the value people place on preventing deaths. However, the value of prevented deaths as a share of overall costs decreased slightly in 2018 compared to 2013 due to the substantial inflation in medical costs. Health effects from foodborne illness can vary by pathogen (bacteria, viruses, and parasites), ranging from a few days of diarrhea to more serious outcomes, such as kidney failure, cognitive impairment, and even death. Determining the overall costs of these health effects provides a common metric to compare impacts of different pathogens, a way to aggregate impacts across illnesses, and a means of comparing the costs of experiencing those illnesses with the costs of preventing them. More information can be found in the ERS’s updated Cost Estimates of Foodborne Illnesses data product. This chart appears in the ERS’s Amber Waves article, “Economic Cost of Major Foodborne Illnesses Increased $2 Billion From 2013 to 2018,” April 2021.

ICYMI... Foodservice employees are more likely to use a food thermometer at home

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Public health officials recommend using food thermometers when cooking meat, poultry, and seafood to verify that the food is adequately cooked and that disease-causing pathogens, which could be in the food, are destroyed. Using data from the American Time Use Survey’s Eating and Health Module, ERS researchers found that 13.7 percent of at-home meal preparers used a food thermometer when preparing any meals with meat, poultry, or seafood during a typical week in 2014 to 2016. ERS researchers further examined whether at-home meal preparers with occupations related to food preparation were more likely to use a food thermometer. For at-home meal preparers who worked in the leisure and hospitality industry, 17.6 percent used food thermometers at home. Just over 20 percent of those who worked in the accommodation and foodservice industry, and 24.2 percent of those who worked in food preparation and serving occupations reported using food thermometers at home. These estimates exceed the national average, suggesting the training that foodservice employees receive for work partially carries over to behavior at home. This chart appears in the article, “Not All Consumers Are Following Food Safety Advice From Health Officials” in ERS’s Amber Waves magazine, April 2019. This Chart of Note was originally published May 22, 2019.

Foodservice employees are more likely to use a food thermometer at home

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Public health officials recommend using food thermometers when cooking meat, poultry, and seafood to verify that the food is adequately cooked and that disease-causing pathogens, which could be in the food, are destroyed. Using data from the American Time Use Survey’s Eating and Health Module, ERS researchers found that 13.7 percent of at-home meal preparers used a food thermometer when preparing any meals with meat, poultry, or seafood during a typical week in 2014 to 2016. ERS researchers further examined whether at-home meal preparers with occupations related to food preparation were more likely to use a food thermometer. For at-home meal preparers who worked in the leisure and hospitality industry, 17.6 percent used food thermometers at home. Just over 20 percent of those who worked in the accommodation and foodservice industry, and 24.2 percent of those who worked in food preparation and serving occupations reported using food thermometers at home. These estimates exceed the national average, suggesting the training that foodservice employees receive for work partially carries over to behavior at home. This chart appears in the article, “Not All Consumers Are Following Food Safety Advice From Health Officials” in ERS’s Amber Waves magazine, April 2019.

From 2014 to 2016, over one-third of at-home meal preparers who used raw milk lived with one or more children

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

While pasteurization is required for interstate shipments of all milk and milk products intended for human consumption, many States allow intrastate shipments of raw (unpasteurized) milk from cows, sheep, or goats for human consumption. Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and pose serious health risks, particularly for people with weakened immune systems, older adults, pregnant women, and children. From 2014 to 2016, an estimated 2.0 percent of at-home meal preparers, or 3.2 million people, consumed or served raw milk on a weekly basis. Many of these at-home meal preparers lived with one or more people in a high-risk group. Among at-home meal preparers who consumed or served raw milk, 80.2 percent lived with at least one other person, 43.9 percent were married, and 35.6 percent had at least one child under the age of 18 residing in the household. In addition, 27.6 percent had at least one person age 62 or older in the household. A version of this chart appears in the January 2019 ERS report, Consumer Food Safety Practices: Raw Milk Consumption and Food Thermometer Use. This topic is also discussed in the article, “Not All Consumers Are Following Food Safety Advice From Health Officials” in the April 2019 edition of Amber Waves.

Meal-preparer characteristics differ between food thermometer users and nonusers

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Improperly cooked meat can carry harmful bacteria and pose serious health risks, particularly for people with weakened immune systems, older adults, and children. Food thermometers are recommended when preparing raw meat to verify that food is adequately cooked and pathogens are destroyed. Using data from the American Time Use Survey’s Eating and Health Module, ERS researchers found that 14 percent of at-home meal preparers used a food thermometer during a typical week in 2014 to 2016. Households that used food thermometers were more likely to have an annual household income of $50,000 or more. Based on monthly pretax earnings and adjusting for household size, they were more likely to be above 185 percent of the Federal poverty line. At-home meal preparers who used a food thermometer were also more likely to rate their physical health as excellent, participate in physical activities or exercise for fitness in a given week, be married, and have at least one child in the household. A version of this chart appears in the ERS report Consumer Food Safety Practices: Raw Milk Consumption and Food Thermometer Use, January 2019.

In 2016, raw milk could be legally purchased in 38 States

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Public health authorities unequivocally advise consumers to avoid consuming raw (unpasteurized) milk. Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and can pose serious health risks, particularly for people with weakened immune systems, older adults, pregnant women, and children. Pasteurizing milk—heating it for a specified period of time—kills dangerous bacteria and pathogens. Federal law requires pasteurization for interstate shipments of all milk and milk products intended for direct human consumption. However, States can allow intrastate shipments, and the number of States in which intrastate sale of raw milk from cows, sheep, or goats for human consumption is legal has been increasing. In 2016, 38 States allowed some form of intrastate sales of raw milk, 13 States allowed sales in retail stores, and 25 States allowed onfarm sales or cow-share agreements where a consumer can purchase a share of a cow’s milk production. Ten years earlier, intrastate sales in various forms were legal in 25 States. A version of this chart appears in the ERS report, Consumer Food Safety Practices: Raw Milk Consumption and Food Thermometer Use, released on January 29, 2019.

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