Report: Consumer Tips

Food Safety Scares 2013

American Lives at Risk from Unsafe Food
Released by: WashPIRG Foundation

Over the past few years, Americans have grown accustomed to seeing headlines about tainted food being recalled and pulled off store shelves. These high-profile recalls leave many Americans wondering whether enough is being done to reduce the risk of contaminated food and foodborne illness. And they are right to do so—48 million people get sick from eating tainted food each year, and despite significant costs to our economy and Americans’ public health, the number of such illnesses, particularly from Salmonella, has remained stagnant for at least 5 years.

More needs to be done to protect Americans from the risk of unsafe food. But important rules, standards, and inspections that could significantly improve food safety have been blocked, underfunded, or delayed, allowing the drumbeat of disease outbreaks to continue.

Multistate foodborne illness outbreaks between October 2012 and October 2013 caused:

  • 1,494 foodborne illnesses linked to multistate outbreaks;
  • 335 hospitalizations linked to multistate outbreaks;
  • 2 deaths linked to multistate outbreaks;
  • 615 incidences of Salmonella linked to multistate outbreaks; and
  • 643 incidences of Cyclospora linked to multistate outbreaks caused by food products.

In Washington State:

  •  75 foodborne illnesses cases linked to multistate outbreaks;
  • $821,730 spent in expenses to treat cases of these foodborne illnesses;
  • 57 cases of Salmonella Heidelberg were documented, costing an average of $11,086

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