Musubi suspected in kids’ illness
Spam-and-rice items sold at three stores on Maui are tested
WAILUKU » State health officials were asking the public to report any cases of stomach problems after eating Spam musubi at Minit Stop stores in Kahului and Wailuku.
Officials were continuing to investigate the cause of gastroenteritis affecting seven children ages 3 to 13.
"We're still actually looking for the problem," state health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said yesterday.
Dr. Lorrin Pang, the state health administrator on Maui, said each of the seven children who complained of stomach problems had eaten Spam musubi at one of the three Minit Stop stores in Wailuku and Kahului.
Pang said none of the seven were hospitalized, but they were treated at the emergency room at Maui Memorial Medical Center. Health officials said the children suffered nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.
Okubo urged anyone who might have suffered similar symptoms after eating Spam musubi purchased between Nov. 11 and Wednesday to call the Maui District Health Office at 984-8213 to assist in the investigation. Anyone who might have purchased the product from the three stores should discard it, the Health Department said.
Art Camara, Minit Stop senior operations manager, said health officials found no problem with the preparation of the Spam musubi at the stores. But Camara said his business was advised to stop accepting rice for the musubi from a local manufacturer.
Camara said his business is now making its own rice and Spam products.
"We just want to make sure we're selling a safe product," he said.
Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the digestive system that can be caused by bacteria from improperly stored food products.
Health officials said prepared food products such as Spam musubi should be maintained at 140 degrees or higher and eaten within four hours.
Camara said Minit Stop and state health officials will be meeting Monday to see if the cause of the problem has been found.
Camara said Minit Stop has sold about 20,000 Spam musubi a week for the past 60 years, and this is the first time state health officials have looked into a potential problem regarding the product.