University of Washington School of Public Health

UW SPH News: Spending on Food Sanitation Linked to Fewer Illnesses

Spending on Food Sanitation Linked to Fewer Illnesses


Higher spending on food safety measures correlated to lower rates of foodborne illness, according to researchers from the University of Washington Schools of Public Health and Nursing.

The study, led by Betty Bekemeier, associate professor of nursing and adjunct associate professor of health services, was published in the American Journal of Public Health. The study measured and analyzed incidence rates of intestinal disease between 2000 and 2010 in all 35 local health districts in Washington state and 36 of 58 local health districts in New York state.

Researchers found significant associations between districts with higher spending on food and sanitation and a lower incidence of salmonella infection in Washington and a lower incidence of cryptosporidiosis, a parasitic-caused diarrheal disease, in New York.

"This study shows how important it is to collect good data that link public health expenditures and outcomes," said senior author Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, senior lecturer of health services and director of the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice within the School of Public Health. "One of our main goals is to show policymakers that investing in public health yields a good return on investment."