We estimated the economic impact of an outbreak of foodborne diseases occurring from elementary school lunches in 1996 in which 268 persons in Iwate prefecture, Japan were infected with Escherichia coli O157:H7. This study assessed the impact of direct economic losses and indirect economic consequences due to this outbreak. The economic impact of the outbreak was estimated to be about 82,686,000 yen. The laboratory costs, about 21,204,000 yen, showed the highest ratio of the total cost of this outbreak (about 26%). Also, the cost of foodstuffs that were not purchased during the suspension of the lunch service (about 19%), personnel expenses paid to lunch service employees (about 17%), human illness costs (about 15%), and the repair costs of facilities (about 15%) showed up as a high ratio in the total cost, respectively. Because all patients were children, the productivity losses estimated were low as children were considered as dependants with no income. Instead, we estimated the lost income of the mothers of the children. The source of the contamination could not be identified. Therefore, no food industries suffered any setbacks where certain food items could not be used for daily consumption due to the outbreak.

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