BY HAWAII REPORTER

Hawaii Unemployment Ranks Seventh-Lowest Nationally

Hawaii’s 6.4 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was the seventh-lowest nationally in December, according to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Hawaii’s jobless rate has been stuck at 6.4 percent for six months and though unemployment is lower than most of the nation, it remains at high levels compared to traditionally lower percentages.

North Dakota boasted the nation’s lowest rate at 3.8 percent, while Nevada had the highest at 14.5 percent.

Hawaii tied with Wyoming for the seventh-lowest percentage.

State and City says Chromium at Safe Levels in Water

Oahu residents shouldn’t worry about chromium levels in their water, according to testing by the state Department of Health and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply.

The two agencies announced Tuesday that initial samples drawn from systems serving the majority of Oahu residents showed total chromium results ranged between non-detectable levels (<1.0 parts per billion or “ppb”) and 4.8 ppb,  which are below the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DOH drinking water regulatory limit for total chromium of 100 ppb, and consistent with levels found by the department during routine regulatory monitoring.

The hexavalent chromium results ranged between 0.32 ppb and 4.0 ppb and are within the expected range of natural background for Hawaii and are not indicative of industrial contamination, the two agencies said.

The tests were conducted after the Environmental Working Group released a study last month showing Honolulu’s hexavalent chromium levels were second highest of the cities it tested. It found the levels were 2 parts per billion.

Test results are posted on the BWS website at www.boardofwatersupply.com and on the DOH website at www.hawaii.gov/health.

The DOH said that while chromium VI is a contaminant of concern, adverse health effects posed by consuming tap water with trace levels of naturally occurring chromium VI have not been identified by EPA at this time.

Census Data Available for Hawaiian Home Lands

The Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism said it has posted on its website the first Census Data for Hawaiian Home Lands since the 2000 Census.

The data is located at:       http://hawaii.gov/dbedt/info/census/acs/ACS2009/ACS2009_5_Year/acs_hi_2009_profiles_5_yr_estimate.
It said the profiles contain social, economic, housing and demographic information for each area.

HMSA Transferring Programs to Healthways

The Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state’s largest health insurer, said it had reached an agreement with Nashville-based Healthways to transfer its integrated health management functions and its HealthPass and other health and wellness programs to Healthways.

HMSA and Healthways said they will also work jointly to further the development and implementation of the HMSA’s state-wide patient-centered medical home initiative.

The 10-year agreement calls for Healthways to assume responsibility for HMSA’s disease management, care management, pharmacy benefit management, and health promotion, prevention and quality improvement solutions and functions for the plan’s approximately 700,000 individual, commercial and government-sponsored members.

HMSA said the agreement will help it to streamline its core business functions while expanding patient support services for providers and continuing to seek the creation of an economically sustainable health care delivery system in Hawaii. Healthways has been delivering HMSA’s health coaching and CareConnection chronic disease programs for the past decade from its facility in Kapolei, Hawaii where it maintains a clinical and operations staff of approximately 60 employees.

HMSA said it will also transfer operations of HMSA subsidiary Integrated Services, Inc. to Healthways. The unit provides health, wellness and prevention support to HMSA employer groups, health care providers and members. Approximately 125 HMSA and unit employees will be offered positions by Healthways. The company will also assume responsibility for HMSA’s current health research functions.

Health Department Expands Recall List on Locally Produced Specialty Foods

The state Department of Health is expanding a recall of products produced at a local commercial kitchen to hundreds of items, including those produced for some well-known restaurants and local brands.

The state announced the recall in saying it had issued a Notice of Permit Suspension and Order to Cease and Desist to First Commercial Kitchen LLC after recent inspections by the department and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration showed evidence of improper manufacturing standards used for products.

It said the recall was the result of inadequate testing and failure to produce required documentation by First Commercial.

The announcement came less than a week after a voluntary recall was announced for two products manufactured at First Commercial Kitchen LLC after samples showed evidence of being improperly manufactured.

The department said no reports of illness related to the two products (Ohana Flavors Black Bean Sauce and Barbs Black Bean Sauce), but that the products present a potential risk for botulism, a form of food poisoning.

The following products are being recalled:

3660 On The Rise Lemon Miso Dressing, Arturo’s Hot Sauces, A Crafters Dream, Arturo’s Maui Onion Salsa, Lilikoi Cream Cheese A.I.R. International, Aunty Malia’s Hawaiian Ketchup Loco Moco Sauce, Aloha Island Foods;

Also:  Barb’s Kal-Bi Sauce, Lomi Salmon Cream Cheese American International Resources, Barb’s Local Style Black Bean Sauce, Lum’s Char-Siu Sauce, Arturo’s Mexican Food Products, Barb’s Oriental Dressing, Lum’s Seasoned Salt, Auntie Maile’s Hawaiian Gourmet Favorites, Barb’s Somen Salad Dressing Maui Hot Sauce, Barb’s Favorite Recipes Barb’s Soy Wasabi Dressing and Maui Onion Tartar Sauce, Bob’s Bar-B-Que Basil Pesto w/Mac Nuts;

Also: Merriman’s Hot Sauce, Carolani Food Group Big Island Hot Sauce, Merriman’s Hula Barbecue Sauce, Chele’s Venom Specialty Sauces, Blend of Aloha Merriman’s Salad Dressing, Cooray Products, Captain’s Choice Gourmet Hot Sauce, Moloka’i Hot Sauce, Datal Unlimited Chef Eugenio’s Spinach Dressing, Moloka’i Limu Salsa, Discovered Flavors Chili Pepper Water;

Also: Nara’s Creamy Island Dressing, East & West Gourmet Cillantro Pesto, Nara’s Guava Island Dressing, Frederico’s Hawaiian Salsas, Citrus Pepper Jelly, Nara’s Hawaiian French Dressing, Hawaiian Passion Citrus Pepper Sauce, Oahu Hot Sauce, Hawaiian Plantations Cooray’s Pineapple Chutney, Ohana Peanut Butter Bar-B-Que Sauces, Heaven & Earth, Cooray’s Curry Powder Ready Mixes, Ohana Pepper Jellies, Honolulu Sauce Company;

Also: Discovered Flavors Gift Paks Pasta Sauces, Indigo Eurasian Cuisine Fire Sauce, Sensational Sassy Succulent Sauces, Island Country Foods, Force Nitro Hot Sauces, Sassy Tropics Fruit Salsas, Island Taste, Frederico’s Hawaiian Salsa, Scoshi’s Konashire Sauce, Italian Sistahs, Frederico’s Chunky Style Salsa, Strawberry-Lilikoi Cream Cheese JMA Co., Genji’s Ponzu Sauce and Sushi Vinegar, Ka ‘anela Inc. Genji’s Salad Dressings, Table Boss – E-Z Black Bean Sauce, Kailua Jelly Company, Genji’s Teriyaki Sauce;

Also: Table Boss – Red Rib Sauce, Kauai Fresh Products Ginger Pepper Jelly, Table Boss – Safari Sauce, Ke kua ‘aina Products Ginger Pepper Sauce, Tanouye’s Sushi Vinegar, Kiawe Hawaii Grandma Alice’s Sushi Vinegar, Tanouye’s Teriyaki Sauce, Kumu Farms Hawaii Passion Hot Sauces, Taro Savored Oil, Kyotaru Hawaii Corp., Hawaiian Hurricane Popcorn Tastier Sauce, L.A.R. Co. Heaven & Earth – Black Bean Sauce, Teri-Miso Sauce;

Also: Megaminds Heaven & Earth – Dragon Fire Chili Sauce, Teri-wasabi Sauce, Merriman’s Restaurant Heaven & Earth – Four Fruits Sauce Tropical Island Garlic Dressing, Nara Foods, Heaven & Earth – Ginger Juice Tuna Spread, Nick’s Fishmarket Heaven & Earth – Ginger Mint Sauce, Valerie Puanani’s Ginger Miso Dressing, Ohana Plantations Heaven & Earth – Peanut Sauce, Wilkinson’s Gourmet Dining Sauce;

Also: Pat’s Island Delight Heaven & Earth – Raspberry -Hoisin Sauce, Wing Black Bean Garlic Sauce, R.K.M.K. Enterprise Heaven & Earth – Tangerine Sauce, Wing Find Shrimp Sauce, Real Fresh Cookin’ Hot Pepper Ginger Jelly, Wing Hoisin Sauce, Rib Roaring Recipes Hot Pepper Sauce, Wing Plum Sauce, Scoshi’s Hot Sauce, Wing Sweet Sour Sauce, Seafood Hawaii Island Country Fruit Butters, Wing Thick Soy Sauce;

Also: That Personal Touch Island Taste Sauces & Dressings, Yamaka Sauces, The Genji Group Italian Sistahs Pasta Sauces, Noni Juice, The Poi Company Kauai Hot Sauce (this is a partial listing only), The Wilkinson Alliance Kauai Salsa, Wing Coffee Company, Kiawe-Q Yummy Korean B-B-Q Lanai Hot Sauce, The Noni Connection Puna Noni Juice, Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hawaii Veranda Jelly, Valtrex, Inc. Original Country Dressing, Spicy Country Dressing Korean Sauce, Liko Lehua Products Lilikoi Butter, Dr. Terry Shintani;

Also: Soul de Cuba Mojo Marinade Mango Salsa, Float Beverages Kava, Da Kine Enterprises BBQ & Salad Dressings, Fu Man Chu Chilli Peppa Water, Honolulu Gourmet Foods Dressings, Nalo Farms Dressings, Natural Edge Waiola Burger Sauce, Aloha Salads Tropical Fruit Vinaigrettes, Palolo Chinese Home Chutney Mango Jam, Pacific Asian Creations Dressings & Sauces, Rib Roaring Recipes, Lum’s Char-Siu Ribs;

Also: Hawaiian Vanilla Company Dressings Sauces, Coffee Cabais Capital Sweet Wasabi Sauce, Island Fire & Spice Salsa, Kalipso Blue Kava Hana Hotties Sunset Sauces, Pacific Pestos, Poke Stop, Grand Cafe & Bakery Sunset Sauces, Pacific Pestos, Natural Edge Soul de Cuba, Hawaiian Vanilla Company, India Cafe Island Fire & Spice, Grand Café & Bakery Dessert Topping Sherry Vinaigrette Dressing, Mama’s Kitchen Mom’s Recipe, Taste of Joy, Teri-Q, Bob’s Bar-B-Que.

The department said inadequate control measures during the manufacture and packaging of food products can lead to possible health risks due to the potential growth of Clostridium Botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death.

Botulism is a potentially fatal form of food poisoning that may cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision, and trouble with speaking or swallowing.  Difficulty in breathing, abdominal distension, and constipation may also be common symptoms.

People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

The Health Department said items in your possession should be returned to the place of purchase. Consumers should not use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Call 676-0880 with questions.

Kauai Utility Signs Agreement for Biomass Power

The Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative said it’s signed a purchase power agreement with Green Energy Team, LLC for a biomass-to-energy project that will provide electricity for more than 8,500 households.

The project near Koloa is forecast to reduce Kaua’i’s dependence on fossil fuels by 3.7 million gallons per year and is part of a program by the utility to obtaining 50 percent of its power from renewable resources by 2023.

Green Energy was formed in 2005 to develop renewable energy projects in the state of Hawai’i, and is joined by key partner Standardkessel Baumgarte Contracting GmbH (SBC) of Germany in this biomass-to-energy project.

The utility said fuel will be supplied primarily by more than 2,500 acres of short-rotation biomass for conversion to electricity. The project is considered to be carbon neutral and will maximize the use of natural fertilization processes, including intercropping with alternate rows of nitrogen-fixing trees and the use of fertilizers created as a byproduct of the plant combustion cycle.

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