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Tracking foodborne illness: a lawyer's viewpoint

Authors: William D. Marler

Abstract:

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year about 76 million cases of foodborne illness occur in the United States (Mead et al. 1999). That means that annually, one in four Americans contracts an illness by eating food that has been contaminated with such pathogens as E. coli, Salmonella, hepatitis A, Campylobacter, Shigella, Norovirus and Listeria. Most of those illnesses are relatively minor. But about 325,000 individuals will be hospitalised and 5,000 will die. Billions of dollars will be spent on medical treatment and billions more lost in decreased food sales and, for the families of sick people, wages will be lost (FDA/CFSAN 2004). When careless business practices poison customers, and when regulatory agencies do not have the manpower or ability to help business perform, people die and market share is lost, nationally and internationally.

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