Negative Impacts of Food Safety Incidents on Domestic and International Markets and Trade
Trade has the potential to benefit households, communities and countries both directly and indirectly. However, to have successful and sustainable trade, the food industry must establish preventive measures and comply with the national and international standards and regulations. Failure to do so has negatively affected income and trade. The following are a few cases from the U.S. and other countries.
In the U.S.:
- The E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Dole bagged spinach in 2006 led to 205 illnesses, 103 hospitalizations and two deaths. This outbreak had a huge impact on the spinach and leafy greens industry due to consumer uncertainty inside and outside U.S. borders. Six months after this outbreak, the consumption of bagged spinach decreased by 43 percent, bagged salad containing spinach decreased by 42 percent, and bagged salad not containing spinach decreased by eight percent in the U.S. On the other hand, at the international level, some countries such as Mexico placed a ban on all California lettuce imports during the outbreak.
- In the summer of 2008, the largest ever outbreak of Salmonella-contaminated fresh produce in the United States led to over 1,400 illnesses. The tomato industry lost an estimated $100 to $300 million. In the end, the outbreak was linked to fresh jalapeno and serrano peppers from Mexico.
- In July 2011, a massive Listeria outbreak associated with cantaloupe from Jenson Farm in Colorado occurred. This outbreak was responsible for 150 illnesses and 33 deaths, making it the deadliest foodborne outbreak in the U.S. in a century. The two owners of the farm lost their business, received five years’ probation, six months of in-home detention, $150,000 each in restitution, and 100 hours of community service.
In other countries:
- In 1991, the Vibrio cholerae outbreak was associated with the consumption of seafood product in Peru. The outbreak spread to many other Latin American countries, resulting in about 400,000 illnesses and 4,000 deaths. This outbreak cost Peru about $770 million as a result of food trade and tourism losses.
- Between 1996 and 2001, more than one outbreak with about 1,400 cases of Cyclosporiasis were recorded in the United States and Canada. A traceback investigation indicated that the source was contaminated raspberries imported from Guatemala. As a result, the Guatemalan food industry lost millions of dollars.
- In 2004, the largest aflatoxicosis outbreak associated with the consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated maize was reported in Kenya resulting in 317 illnesses and 125 deaths. Failure to meet international aflatoxin standards costs African countries about $750 million annually.
- In 2011, a foodborne outbreak caused by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O104:H4 associated with fenugreek sprouts occurred in Germany and cases quickly spread throughout Europe and elsewhere. The organic fenugreek seeds, used to produce the sprouts, were imported from Egypt. More than 4,000 people became ill, and 50 died in 16 countries. It was estimated that European farmers and food industries lost about $1.3 billion; emergency aid provided to 22 European states cost about $240 million and cost Egypt about $4.2 billion.
Based on the above information, it appears that improving food safety is an important key to achieve sustainable trade for domestic and international markets in both developed and developing countries.