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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 5, 2010

Isles No. 1 in foodborne illness costs

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawai'i has the nation's highest costs per case of foodborne illness, according to a new study produced by the Produce Safety Project, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The report found the economic impact of foodborne illness amounts to $2,008 per case in the state, or $158 more than the national average.

Foodborne illness can be caused by raw or undercooked poultry, foods cross-contaminated by undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk or contaminated water.

The study was done to underscore the impact of the illnesses. It notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the about 76 million new cases of food-related illnesses result in 5,000 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations annually.

The cost per illness was determined by adding the medical costs such as doctor visits, drug costs and hospitalization to other expenses such as lost life expectancy, pain and suffering and functional disability.

It found the total cost of the illnesses amounted to $710 million annually in Hawai'i. Medical costs were the smallest piece of this at $54 million, with life-expectancy costs totaling $239 million and quality-of-life costs at $417 million.

Hawai'i also had the nation's highest per-capita costs at $553.

Nationally, the report estimated the total cost of foodborne illnesses at $152 billion annually.

The report is available at www.makeourfoodsafe.org.