Maui News

Hawai‘i Department of Health to Distribute Food Consumption Survey

November 4, 2018, 6:43 PM HST
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The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) is conducting a statewide survey to learn more about residents’ and visitors’ food habits. The purpose of the survey is to determine if there are any food habits associated with possible risks for foodborne illnesses like rat lungworm disease, the DOH said.

The Anthology Marketing Group in Honolulu will be administering the survey. The survey team at Anthology Marketing Group will be responsible for collecting completed surveys and aggregating the data to maintain respondent confidentiality. All responses will be anonymous.

The Anthology Marketing Group began mailing the official survey to random households across the state on Thursday. Those who receive the paper-based survey will also be offered the option to submit their responses online. Further instructions will be included in the hard-copy packets sent by mail. This particular survey will not contact residents by phone or email.

The survey consists of questions regarding what residents like to eat, where residents purchase or grow their foods, where residents get their water from, and how residents prepare their food. The DOH will use this data to develop best practices for food safety as well as guide public health intervention and prevention strategies. 

The department is aiming to collect a total of 3,772 survey responses to get a complete, representative picture of households in the state. Those who receive a mailed survey are encouraged to complete it in full and return their responses promptly in the included postage-paid envelope based on the instructions provided.

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“We strongly urge residents and visitors who receive this survey in the mail to promptly fill it out. The more data we have to understand the average food consumption habits of people in Hawai‘i, the better equipped our team will be to respond quickly to identify implicated foods and respond faster to mitigate further spread of disease,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said. “Department of Health disease investigators work diligently to determine how people may have gotten sick, but one of the most difficult parts of an investigation is determining what individuals may have been exposed to that caused the infection. Data from this study will also be used to identify effective measures that can be taken to prevent any further infections from occurring.”

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Data gathered from the survey will be used specifically to analyze potential risk behaviors related to rat lungworm disease, such as specific food-item consumption, exposure to rats, slugs, and snails in the area surrounding a survey respondent’s home, food preparation habits, water sources, and eating habits outside the home.

“We know that most people get sick with angiostrongyliasis from eating infected slugs and snails, but we often have a hard time pinpointing exactly how they came to consume the infected mollusks,” Dr. Park added. “This survey will allow us to determine if certain behaviors or conditions may result in greater susceptibility than others to rat lungworm disease.”

If residents would like to confirm the validity of the survey they received by mail, they may contact the Department of Health or Anthology Marketing Group using the phone numbers and/or email addresses provided in the instructions in each survey packet. Participation in this survey is voluntary.

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More information about rat lungworm disease and how to prevent it can be found on the CDCʻs website and the DOHʻs website

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