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Hawaii Health Department Orders Farm to Cease Sale of Green Onions After Pesticide Violation is Uncovered

HONOLULU, HAWAII – The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) Food and Drug Branch required the destruction and disposal of approximately 800 pounds of fresh green onions today due to the presence of an unapproved pesticide found on the product during routine sampling. Wong Hon Hin, Inc., a Waianae farm has been ordered to cease the sale of all suspect product until follow-up testing can show no pesticide residue.

A routine monthly sampling of twenty different raw agricultural commodities was collected on October 17, 2011 and analyzed for the presence of pesticide residues. The results received from the state laboratory on October 27 indicated that the sample of green onions had 0.071 parts per million (ppm) of oxamyl, a pesticide that is not approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on green onions. Oxamyl is approved by the EPA for use on a variety of vegetables and has an allowable range from 0.1 ppm for carrots up to 10 ppm for celery.  Green onions have a zero tolerance for oxamyl.

Wong Hon Hin Inc. was notified on October 28 to cease the sale of all suspect green onions. That afternoon a follow-up sample from the farm was collected and analyzed for the presence of oxamyl.  Results received the next day indicated 0.309 ppm of oxamyl on the green onions. The farm was notified of the results and instructed to destroy and properly dispose of the suspect product. A DOH Food and Drug inspector witnessed the destruction of approximately 800 pounds of green onions today.  No green onions will be allowed to be sold by the farm until subsequent samples indicate zero levels of oxamyl.

The DOH believes that the crop of green onions tested on October 17th was distributed to consumers in Hawai‘i.  Because the pesticide is allowed in greater amounts on other crops, the department does not consider the situation to be a significant threat to public health.

The DOH Food and Drug Branch routinely collects and tests a variety of produce samples each month for pesticide residues. Any sample found in violation is immediately followed with a cease and desist order, further sampling and education. The Food and Drug Branch safeguards public health by ensuring that food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices and related consumer products are safe and properly labeled.  The program inspects establishments within the state where these products are manufactured, distributed, or sold. It also investigates complaints, and collects samples to determine compliance with product standards.

Submitted by Lance Wong, Acting Food & Drug Branch Manager for the DOH


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