Health department clears Kahuku company to resume sales of ogo and sea asparagus

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has lifted its Cease and Desist Order against Marine Agrifuture, also known as Olakai Hawaii. The company was notified it may resume the sale and distribution of Kahuku Ogo, Robusta Ogo and Sea Asparagus food products harvested at the Kahuku farm.

Reports of salmonella infections on Oahu were linked to consumption of ogo (or limu) and subsequently led to the investigation of the Kahuku farm on Nov. 2 and 7.

Fourteen cases were confirmed among children and adults, four of which required hospitalization.

During the investigation, testing was conducted on environmental, processing area, and ogo samples. At this time, salmonella was found in the source water that supplied the company’s rinse tanks and final product tanks.

DOH says that laboratory test results from samples taken on Nov. 29 indicated that Marine Agrifuture’s processing areas and products were negative for salmonella. The wells, all inlets to production ponds, and the growing and rinse tanks were also free from salmonella and levels of indicator organisms (enterococci and clostridium perfringens) that would signal possible environmental contamination.

“He’s going to have frequent testing monthly for now, at least for the next six months to test its well water and all its inlets,” said Peter Oshiro with the Department of Health. “The Department of Health will also follow up sporadically to make sure the well is clean and all his process area stays free from bacteria.”

DOH has recommended the farm continue to sample and test their water to insure corrective measures remain effective and sufficient. The farm is also urged to share test results with DOH.

All components of the farm, piping, wells, source/rinse water, production areas, equipment and food products are subject to further periodic and unannounced testing by health inspectors. In addition, the farm is not allowed to grow or harvest any products from streams, or other areas not approved by DOH.

Marine Agrifuture is a major distributor of ogo and sea asparagus in Hawaii and its products are shipped to all islands as well as the mainland (California and Washington state).

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