American Morning

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March 3rd, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Tainted food sickens millions, costs billions

(CNN) – We're learning for the first time just how much tainted food is costing America in money and lives, thanks to a landmark report by the Produce Safety Project.

The study estimates food-borne illnesses like E. coli and Salmonella sicken 76 million people a year, and kill about five thousand more, ultimately costing the U.S. more than a $150 billion a year.

That's more than four times the government's original estimate made over a decade ago.

One of the architects of the report, Erik Olson, joined us on Wednesday's American Morning. He is the director of food and consumer product safety for the Pew Health Group.

We were also joined by Elizabeth Armstrong and her 5-year-old daughter Ashley. Ashley nearly died from kidney failure after contracting E. Coli from tainted spinach four years ago.

Filed under: U.S.
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Lawrence Grosh

    Anybody wash their hands? Look around you. In a food service environment, where are the 'wash stations?' Unless the 'Health Inspector' has just wirtten them up for it, there may not be any. I know, it sounds silly, but 'food servers' and all others who handle food you are about to eat, should be washing their hands, and changing their gloves, every time they switch between foods. So, if I am cutting cheese, I must wash my hands and change my gloves, when I switch to cutting ham. If I then change to cutting tomatoes, another hand washing and glove changing must take place. This applies in the 'dishroom' as well. Dirty hands should not touch 'clean dishes'. What happens when I forget? People, my customers, can get sick and die. Why? Unless the food has been disinfected, it can be contaminated with salmonella, e.coli, and others. Who is most at risk? The very young, sick people, and the elderly. Raw meats, and uncooked vegetables are suspect. How about the dishes? If you go into a 'Food service establishment' are the dishes clean? When you go to the buffet, are there olive pits in the garnish? Are 'sneeze shields' in use? Are the plates clean, or do you have to discard a few until you find a clean one? Temperature is another important factor. Are hot foods being kept at the proper temperature? ( Above 140 F). Are cold foods being kept cold? ( Below 41 F).

    March 3, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
  2. Terry Brookman

    Looks like the FDA is doing what the rest of our high priced government is doing. They make a lot of money for themselves and their corporate friends and we die and pay for it.

    March 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm |