Mauna Loa recalls macadamia nut products due to E. coli concerns
A variety of Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Company products produced on the Big Island earlier this month have been voluntarily recalled due to potential E. coli contamination, according to the state Department of Health.
A Health Department spokesperson said Monday that items produced at the company’s facility in Keaau between Sept. 6 and Sept. 21 may have come into contact with water from a well that was found to have been contaminated — and should not be consumed.
Retailers have been told to remove all Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut products received after Sept. 6.
The state Department of Health said they were alerted of the high bacteria counts on Friday. A company spokesperson said DOH notified the company of possible water violations in their water system on Saturday. However, over the weekend, the company insisted its product remained safe “due to multiple safeguards in place to ensure quality.”
“That was a misstatement on their part. That was something that should not have been said,” said Peter Oshiro, the Health Department’s Environmental Health Program Manager.
The Health Department says that water samples taken from the facility’s distribution system passed normal testing on Sept. 5, but similar tests on September 21 triggered possible contamination concerns.
“There is clear evidence that food produced at the Keaau facility may be contaminated and consumers may be at risk,” said Oshiro. “The Department of Health is working with the facility to ensure the safety of their drinking water and food production.”
Investigators from the Health Department are “working with the facility to ensure their drinking water is safe and their facility is cleared before operations are allowed to resume.”
Kalihi resident Beverly Cayco said she doesn’t eat Mauna Loa macadamia nuts regularly, but often sends them to family and friends on the mainland.
“It’s not as much as the locals that I’m worried about,” Cayco said. “I think everyone else should know about it.”
Blake Adsero, visitor from Washington, said he wish he was notified of the potential contamination sooner.
“It worries me a little bit because I bought some and I’ve been eating them. So I’m a little concerned yeah,” Adsero said.
No illnesses related to the water have been reported.
The production facility will remain closed until the contamination issues have been resolved.
Consumers who may have purchased recalled macadamia nut products should either discard them immediately or attempt to return them to the store where they were purchased.
Read the full list of products on the voluntary recall list here.