Food and Safety Concerns

Food safety is a national priority that affects every man, woman and child. As many as 48 million Americans become ill annually due to foodborne pathogens and toxins. The Center for Disease Control's estimates indicate that as many as 3,000 of these individuals will die, with an additional 128,000 being hospitalized as a result of this exposure.


Foodborne illness poses a $77.7 billion economic burden in the United States annually, according to a new study published in the Journal of Food Protection. The basic cost-of-illness model includes economic estimates for medical costs, productivity losses, and illness-related death. The study does not include costs to the food industry, including reduced consumer confidence, recall losses or litigation. For example, the 1993 Jack-in-the-Box hamburger incident involving beef contaminated by E.coli 0157:H7 infected more than 600 individuals (mostly children), killed four children and resulted in lawsuit settlements of $126 million.


The Culprits

While some foodborne illnesses have dropped significantly, infections caused by one of the most common germs—Salmonella—have not declined. CDC estimates the cost of foodborne illness caused by Salmonella alone to be up to $365 million in direct medical costs annually. The USDA Economic Research Service figures the total cost of Salmonella cases to be $2.7 billion (2010 dollars), including all Salmonella sources. The USDA/ERS are continually adding and updating data on the medical costs of other bacterial illnesses on the USDA/ERS Foodborne Illness Calculator.


Our Solution

To reduce the threat that salmonella and other culprits pose to food safety, AUDFS is combining advances in the identification of foodborne illnesses and contaminants with the latest in biosensor technology. These efforts will ultimately lead to a system that monitors food products from production to consumption, thereby eliminating or reducing significantly the threat of foodborne bacteria, pathogens and toxins (i.e. Salmonella, E. coli, "mad-cow disease," et cetera) reaching our dinner tables and restaurants.

Last Updated: 9/27/18 9:11 AM