Foodborne illnesses can be costly in more ways than one, but at least from an economic impact standpoint the trend line is pointing down.

According to research by Robert Scharff, a consumer science professor at The Ohio State University, the annual health-related cost of foodborne illness in the United States is estimated at $77.7 billion. That’s down significantly from the $152 billion annual cost that Scharff estimated in 2010.

The new study published in the Journal of Food Protection, reflects updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, which are significantly lower than previously thought. As Scharff notes, the new CDC estimates make earlier economic estimates outdated and "obsolete."

As reported in “Food Safety News,” a commonly cited 1999 CDC study estimated that foodborne pathogens caused 76 million cases, 5,000 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations each year. The latest study from CDC estimates approximately 48 million cases, 3,000 deaths and 128,000 hospitalizations are related to foodborne pathogens annually.

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