Hawaii’s Star-Bulletin today takes a look at the high rate of campylobacter contamination being experienced on the islands of the nation’s 50th State.   The newspaper reports that:

With about 800 cases per year, Hawaii has the highest rate of reported Campylobacter infections in the nation. Cross-contamination of foods with Campylobacter and other bacteria can happen at home, too. With the holiday season ahead, it’s time to make sure that all the cook’s helpers know how to avoid cross-contamination.

The taking off point for the article was the $3.2 million fine reportedly imposed on a Salt Creek Grill restaurant in Orange County, California.  The raw ahi the Salt Creek Grill  served caused permanent nerve damage to a young woman.  Raw Ahi (tuna)  is a commonly served entry in Hawaii.

The California victim was an avid runner whose condition progressed to permanent nerve damage. Test results indicated that she was infected by a type of bacteria called Campylobacter.  While not usually found in raw tuna,  the “Campy” bacteria is common in chicken.   Cross contamination was likely at the California Salt Creek Grill.

The Star-Bulletin article by Alan Titchenal, Ph.D., C.N.S., and Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., , can be found here.  

The authors are nutritionists in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii-Manoa. Dobbs also works with University Health Services.