HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Big Island woman has filed a complaint with the state Health Department after she says she bit into a slug in a deli sandwich.
Chaunda Rodrigues said she bought two sandwiches from Island Naturals in Hilo last week.
Her husband ate one and she says she made the disturbing discovery after sharing avocado from her sandwich with her youngest son.
The slug she sent to a lab at UH-Hilo tested positive for rat lungworm parasites and now the three of them are taking an anti-worm medication as a precaution.
“I was just like, I can’t believe this is happening to me. It was disgusting,” said Rodrigues.
“The piece that came out of my mouth was around like 1 inch, but I noticed when I took a picture that there was a second half of the slug.”
The Health Department sent an inspector and Island Naturals still has its green placard under the state’s food safety program.
Russell Ruderman, founder and president of Island Naturals, apologized for the incident.
He said the store’s regular local and mainland supplier were not able to provide lettuce so a worker decided to use some from the produce stand and washed it inadequately.
“We deeply regret it,” he said. “Among the many things we’re doing as a result is we’ve revised our safety precautions, but we’re also going to stop using local leaf lettuce in any of our kitchens.”
Ruderman is also the state senator for Puna and Kau, and has been an advocate for rat lungworm disease education for years, helping secure funding for research at UH Hilo.