Salmonellosis, a common human intestinal disorder primarily caused by contaminated meats and poultry, attacks an estimated two million Americans annually. Using a cost of illness approach, the medical costs and productivity losses alone were estimated to cost around one billion dollars in 1987. If pain and suffering, lost leisure time, and chronic disease costs could be quantified, the estimate would increase significantly. Other procedures for calculating the value of life could either raise or lower the estimated economic benefits of reducing human salmonellosis. Incorporating losses to farmers, whose animals have reduced feed efficiency, reduced weight gain, or deaths because of chronic salmonellosis, would also increase the estimates. Also excluded were costs of food safety regulatory programs and costs to the industry for product recalls and plant closures due to foodborne salmonellosis outbreaks. The National Academy of Sciences has endorsed risk assessment as a necessary method to evaluate and improve food safety regulatory programs, especially as applied to Salmonella contamination of poultry. Understanding the costs of salmonellosis is an important part of risk characterization since a key benefit of regulatory programs is reducing human salmonellosis.