A variety of Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut products produced Sept. 6-21 at the company’s Keaau facility were voluntarily recalled because of potential E. coli contamination, the state Department of Health announced Monday.
According to a DOH news announcement, the recall follows a detection of E. coli in the well water and distribution system that supplies the facility, located at 16-701 Macadamia Road.
All retailers are to remove from sale Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut products received after Sept. 6 because these products might have been contaminated with E. coli, the DOH said.
“There is clear evidence that food produced at the Keaau facility may be contaminated and consumers may be at risk,” said Sanitation Branch chief Peter Oshiro in the news release.
Samples taken from the water distribution system Sept. 5 passed testing and showed no contamination, the DOH said, but on Sept. 21, the department was notified that a sample from the distribution system tested positive for E. coli.
Food production operations were then closed by the DOH.
“The DOH is working with the facility to ensure their drinking water is safe and their facility is cleared before operations are allowed to resume,” the news release states.
According to a Mauna Loa news release, subsequent test samples remained positive for E. coli and the DOH advised the company to recall its products as an additional safety measure.
Mauna Loa took immediate action to notify employees and the public within 24 hours of receiving notification about possible contamination and advised consumers and employees not to drink or consume the water while investigations continue, the company press release said.
The macadamia nut facility will remain closed until it meets all DOH Sanitation Branch and Safe Drinking Water Branch requirements and standards.
“Mauna Loa is committed to the highest industry standards and is working diligently to determine the cause of the contamination,” the company news release stated. “The facility has multiple safeguards in place to ensure safety and quality and is reviewing its process thoroughly to avoid any future contamination issues.”
No illnesses related to the water have been reported to the state, according to the DOH.
“As far as our current staff can recall, this is the first time a recall of this nature has happened with Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut products,” said DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
According to Mauna Loa, the products were packaged in Keaau and sold only in retail stores in Hawaii.
Anyone who purchased recalled products should discard them immediately or attempt to return them to the store where they were purchased.
Requests for comment from Mauna Loa were unmet by press time.
According to the DOH, the presence of the E. coli bacteria indicates that water could be contaminated with human or animal waste.
Microbes in that waste can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms, and might pose special health risks for infants, young children, the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.
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