Monday, July 07, 2008

Cost-Benefit Analysis

The cost of the salmonella outbreak so far:
The 943 reported cases are nationwide, requiring at least 130 hospitalizations since mid-April after the first salmonella illnesses appeared, the FDA said Saturday.
Part of the cost of the response:
The U.S. tomato industry has taken a $100 million hit as restaurants temporarily dropped tomatoes from their menus, and farmers have had to plow under their fields or leave crops to rot in packinghouses. Mexico has not calculated its losses.
Just looking at the cost to American farmers, that amounts to about $770,000 per hospitalization. Worth it?


Blogger anomdebus said...

Unknown. They were not paying for the already hospitalized, but for the ones who would have been hospitalized if the action was not taken.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

True. Still, the fact that, out of a nation of 300 million people, so few people have been so mildly affected, and the fact that we don't even know the problem was from tomatoes, suggests to me that the response has been wildly disproportionate.

12:50 PM  
Blogger James Ringo said...

With such a disproportionate response, there are a lot of angles to view the stupidity. I take the line that folks are spending far to much of their limited attention on this, while many other far deadlier risks are out there (traffic accident, obviously one) Here:

12:59 PM  
Blogger "Q" the Enchanter said...

Another known unknown is the extent to which the demand for tomatoes would have dropped and relevant distribution channels closed without any FDA action at all. (Of course this would also figure in assessing the marginal benefit of the FDA response.)

1:47 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

Good point, Q. I guess my point is more about how the nation as a whole has been reacting, not just the FDA. Personally, I go out of my way to buy tomatoes whenever I can; I'm more worried about getting killed a car wreck on the way home from the store.

3:09 PM  
Blogger "Q" the Enchanter said...

Or in a horrible blogging accident right in the middle of leav

10:15 PM  
Blogger miriam sawyer said...

Never mind the farmers. Congress just gave them a massive handout.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Nathan Shumate said...

In other words, we're still paying for the tomatoes, we just don't get to eat them.

4:41 PM  

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