In 2020, the estimated costs of foodborne infections in the Netherlands were 140 million euros lower than in the preceding year. This corresponds to a 30% decrease. Last year, far fewer people fell ill as a result of foodborne infections than in the years before. This is most probably due to the measures imposed and advice issued during the coronavirus pandemic, such as the advice on hand hygiene, restrictions on international travel and the closure of bars and restaurants. It may also be the case that fewer people sought or received medical help for these types of illnesses.
It is estimated that these costs totalled 282 million euros in 2020, compared to 423 million euros in 2019 and 426 million euros in 2018. This cost estimate includes the direct medical costs, for example in hospitals, as well as the costs incurred by the patients and their families, such as travelling expenses. It also includes the costs incurred in other sectors, for example as a result of absenteeism.
Lower disease burden
Each year, RIVM analyses how many years of life on average are lost due to ill health or early death as a result of foodborne infections. This is known as the disease burden. The disease burden is expressed by an international unit of measurement: disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
To this end, RIVM researches the impact on the disease burden of 14 pathogens, including Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria.
In 2020, the disease burden from these 14 pathogens totalled approximately 7,300 DALYs (compared to approximately 11,000 DALYs in 2019).
Development over time
This research was commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The results provide policymakers with insight into the disease burden and the various ways in which people may acquire an infection with food-related pathogens. The research also allows policymakers to monitor the development of the disease burden from foodborne infections and the associated costs over time.