Senate Democrats

Food Safety Statistics Index

The need to improve our nation’s food safety laws is being heightened by a series of high-profile food safety incidents.  The following index catalogues some of the most notable public health, economic, food import, and polling statistics that underscore the need for improvement in our food safety system.

Top Ten Food Safety Statistics

 

1.      Number of people that are sickened each year in the United States due to a food-borne illness [Centers for Disease Control; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

76 Million

2.     Number of people that are hospitalized each year in the United States due to a food-borne illness [Centers for Disease Control; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

325,000

3.     Number of people that die each year in the United States due to a food-borne illness [Centers for Disease Control; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

5,000

4.     Amount that food-borne illnesses cost the United States each year  [USA Today; Last Accessed 3.16.10] :

$152 Billion or
$1,850 per person

5.     Percentage increase in the consumption of the product most likely to be associated with a food safety incident since 1992 [USDA; Last Accessed 3.6.10]:

180

6.     Percentage increase in the incidence of salmonella infections since 1997 [Centers for Disease Control; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

20

7.     Number of countries that import food into the United States    [Food Safety.Gov; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

170

8.    Decrease in the number of FDA inspections in foreign countries between 2001 and 2007 [GAO; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

115

9.     Decrease in the number of countries where the FDA conducted inspections between 2001 and 2007 [GAO; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

15

10.  Value of the domestic and imported food that is regulated by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

$417 Billion and
$49 Billion

Economic Impact of Recent Food Safety Incidents

 

1.       Estimate of the immediate economic losses by the spinach industry due to E. Coli contamination of spinach in 2006 [GAO; Last Accessed 3.17.10]:

$37 to 74 Million

2.      Estimates of the economic losses by the spinach industry one year after E. Coli contaminated spinach [USA Today; Last Accessed 3.17.10]:

$350 Million

3.      Percentage reduction in spinach sales one year after E. Coli was detected in spinach [USA Today; Last Accessed 3.17.10]:

20 Percent

4.      Estimated value of the amount of peanut butter recalled by one company due to salmonella contamination in 2007 [CIO; Last Accessed 3.17.10]:

$1 Billion

5.     Estimated cost of the peanut butter recall incurred by one company due to salmonella contamination in 2007 [CIO; Last Accessed 3.17.10]:

$78 Million

6.      Estimated cost to Florida’s tomato industry due to a mistaken salmonella finding in 2007 [Sarasota Herald Tribune; Last Accessed 3.17.10]:

$500 Million

7.     Estimated cost to the nation’s peanut producers from the 2009 salmonella contamination of peanut butter [Associated Press; Last Accessed 3.17.10]:

$1 Billion

8.    Percentage reduction in pistachio sales ($800 million industry) more than year after salmonella was detected [USA Today; Last Accessed 3.17.10]:

20

9.     Estimated cost of the pet food suffered by one company due to melamine contamination in 2008 [USA Today, Last Accessed 3.17.10]:

$50 Million

10.  Economic cost of food-borne illnesses to the produce industry per year [Produce Safety Project; Last Accessed 3.17.10]:

$39 Billion

Concern and Support Food Safety

 

1.       Percent of Americans who stated that they “trust the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that the food I purchase is safe” in a 2009 survey [FMI; Last Accessed 3.18.10]:

76

2.     Percent of Americans who stated that they are “somewhat, not too, or not at all confident” that the food they buy is safe in a January 2010 survey [CBS News; Last Accessed 3.18.10]:

68

3.      Percent of Americans who gave the United States a grade of “C” or lower for ensuring the safety of the nation’s food in a January 2010 survey [CBS News; Last Accessed 3.18.10]:

58

4.     Percent of Americans that said their confidence in the safety of the nation’s food supply had “somewhat” or “strongly” decreased in a November 2008 survey [Consumer Reports; Last Accessed 3.18.10]:

48

5.     Percent of Americans that were aware of instances of food recalls due to health and safety concerns in a March 2009 survey [ASQ; Last Accessed 3.18.10]:

93

6.     Percent of Americans that strongly or somewhat agree that “the government should have the ability to require a food recall when there are concerns about food safety” in a November 2008 survey [Consumer Reports; Last Accessed 3.18.10]:

98

7.     Percent of Americans that support giving the FDA the authority to issue mandatory food recalls in a September 2009 survey [Hart/Public Opinion; Last Accessed 3.18.10]:

89

8.    Percent of Americans that strongly or somewhat agree that “when food safety problems arise, the government should be able to quickly and accurately trace food from production to sale” in a November 2008 survey [Consumer Reports; Last Accessed 3.18.10]:

97

9.      Percent of Americans that support requiring tracing systems that enable the FDA to trace food back to its source in a September 2009 survey [Hart/Public Opinion; Last Accessed 3.18.10]:

94

10.  Percent of Americans that support requiring foreign countries that export food to the U.S. to certify that their food safety systems are as strong as ours in a September 2009 survey [Hart/Public Opinion; Last Accessed 3.18.10]:

92

Food Imports

 

1.      Number of countries that currently import food into the United States  [Food Safety.Gov; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

170

2.     Number of countries that imported food into the United States in 2007 [CRS; Last Accessed 3.19.10]:

150

3.     Decrease in the number of FDA inspections in foreign countries between 2001 and 2007 [GAO; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

115

4.     Decrease in the number of countries where the FDA conducted inspections between 2001 and 2007 [GAO; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

15

5.     Number of food import shipments that were refused entry into the United States between 1998 and 2004 [USDA; Last Accessed 3.19.10]:

49,448

6.     Number of food import safety violations reported between 1998 and 2004 [USDA; Last Accessed 3.19.10]:

70,369

7.      Number of vegetable and vegetable product violations between 1998 and 2004 [USDA; Last Accessed 3.19.10]:

14,463

8.    Percentage increase in the number of foreign vegetable and vegetable product shipments refused for importation by the FDA since 2000 [FDA Import Refusal Statistics; Last Accessed 3.18.10; here and here]:

66

9.      Number of salmonella safety import violations reported between 1998 and 2004 [USDA; Last Accessed 3.19.10]:

4,445

10. Value of the imported food that is regulated by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration; Last Accessed 3.16.10]:

$49 Billion

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