Cost of foodborne illness

BY: Jacole Whitaker

Foodborne illness is a major cause of morbidity and loss of productivity in developed nations. Although low socioeconomic status (SES) is generally associated with negative health outcomes, its impact on foodborne illness is poorly understood. We conducted a systematic review to examine the association between SES and laboratory-confirmed illness caused by eight important foodborne pathogens.

We completed this systematic review using PubMed for all papers published between 1 January 1980 and 1 January 2013 that measured the association between foodborne illness and SES in highly developed countries and identified 16 studies covering four pathogens. The effect of SES varied across pathogens: the majority of identified studies for Campylobacter, salmonellosis, and E. coli infection showed an association between high SES and illness. The single study of listeriosis showed illness was associated with low SES. A reporting bias by SES could not be excluded. SES should be considered when targeting consumer-level public health interventions for foodborne pathogens.

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