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Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Products Recalled, Possible E. coli Contamination

Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut products produced at the company’s facility located in Kea‘au on Hawai‘i Island between Sept. 6-21, 2018 have been voluntarily recalled due to potential contamination of Eschericia coli (E. coli).

The recall follows a detection of E. coli in the well water and distribution system that supplies the Kea‘au facility. No illnesses related to the water have been reported to the state.

The Hawai‘i Department of Health advises that all retailers of Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut products are to remove from sale products received after Sept. 6, as these products may have been contaminated with E. coli and are adulterated.

Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, Section §328-9 (1)(D) defines adulterated as a food “produced, prepared, or packed or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated…”

“There is clear evidence that food produced at the Kea‘au facility may be contaminated and consumers may be at risk,” said Peter Oshiro, Sanitation Branch chief. “The Department of Health is working with the facility to ensure the safety of their drinking water and food production.”

On Sept. 5, samples taken from facility’s water distribution system passed testing and showed no contamination. On Sept. 21, the DOH was notified that a water distribution system sample at the production center tested positive for E. coli and the food production operations were closed by order of DOH.

The state Department of Health is working with the facility to ensure their drinking water is safe and their facility is cleared before operations are allowed to resume. The Mauna Loa macadamia nut facility will remain closed until it meets all DOH Sanitation Branch and Safe Drinking Water Branch requirements and standards.

According to health officials, E. coli bacteria can exist in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate soil and may persist in soil for many years.

E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

Product Recall Information: (Product, UPC, Lot#, Size)

Consumers who have purchased the recalled products should discard the products immediately or attempt to return them to the store where purchased.

The company has since released a statement saying:

“At Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation we take the matter of our quality seriously. After the discovery of the contamination in our wells, we are working closely with the DOH to develop a plan to meet all water safety standards. No illnesses related to the water have been reported to the state.

“Mauna Loa stands firmly behind its commitment to the safety and quality of its products. We apologize for the conflicting statements that were associated with our products over the weekend. The best way to represent safety and quality is to voluntarily remove our products from the marketplace. As a precaution, we have agreed to remove products that were produced between Sept. 6 – 21, 2018 at our Keaʻau facility.

“For consumer-related questions, please call 1 (844) 344-5444, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. HST. This is a toll-free number.”