Estimating the Value of Avoiding Morbidity and Mortality from Foodborne Illnesses

Josephine A. Mauskopf, Michael T. French

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


When people consume products violating the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD & C) Act they may experience morbidity or mortality from foodborne illness. Some studies have used survey data to estimate the dollar value of avoiding a few illnesses, but surveys are expensive and the resulting estimates cannot easily be generalized to the wide variety of foodborne illnesses. We develop a method that uses published data to estimate the value of avoiding morbidity and mortality from foodborne illnesses using two metrics–quality‐adjusted life‐years and dollars. The method first describes the effects of different illnesses on the patient and then converts these descriptions into changes in time spent in different health states with different relative utility weights. We use these estimated changes to compute losses in quality‐adjusted life‐years with different illnesses. We then use the empirical literature to estimate a value for these lost quality‐adjusted life‐years. We demonstrate our method and derive estimates for the value of avoiding a future case of botulism, salmonellosis, chronic hepatitis, and bladder cancer. Researchers can use our method to compare the value of avoiding all illnesses caused by violations of the FD & C Act. More importantly, government officials can use our method to quickly and cost‐effectively generate morbidity and mortality valuation estimates for any illness for policy purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-631
Number of pages13
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • KEY WORDS: Foodborne illness
  • dollar value.
  • health risks
  • morbidity
  • mortality
  • quality‐adjusted life‐year

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Physiology (medical)


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