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Using 1998–2008 data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on foodborne illnesses and outbreaks, we examine the economic impact of the United States Department of Agriculture's proposed and final rules to reduce the incidence of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in ready‐to‐ eat meat and poultry products. Using a difference‐in‐ differences approach, we find that these rules together reduced meat‐related Lm illnesses by about 60 per year, which we attribute to reductions in both the number and average size of meat‐related Lm outbreaks. We then monetize this illness reduction using an underreporting and underdiagnosis multiplier of 2.3 and an estimate of the mean cost of a Lm illness of $1.5 million and find that these rules generated about $208 million per year in cost savings, which compares favorably to the rules’ estimated annual cost of roughly $22 million.
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