Food-borne Illnesses Heavy on the Pocketbook

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - A food safety group says food-borne illnesses are expensive as well as unpleasant.

The Produce Safety Project, which is an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, says food-borne illnesses like E. coli and salmonella cost the U.S. $152 billion a year in health care and other losses. A previous estimate by the Agriculture Department in 1997 had put the tab at $35 billion.

The director of the food safety campaign says their report shows that food-borne illnesses are "a serious burden to our society." Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut calls the costs "shockingly high," and says the risks need to be reduced.

The Senate is considering a bill that would require more government inspections of food manufacturers, and give the Food and Drug Administration new authority.

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