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State issues recall of food processed by Waipahu company

By Gary T. Kubota

LAST UPDATED: 4:14 a.m. HST, Jan 26, 2011

State health officials have issued a product recall of food processed by Waipahu-based First Commercial Kitchen LLC, including more than 100 specialty products from various brands.

Many of the products, however, may not have come from First Commercial, which touts an expansive list of clients on its Web site but is not currently doing business with all of them. 

Officials said yesterday while the state Department of Health has received no reports of illness, the company has inadequate control measures, including testing measures and required documentation.

First Commercial has requested a hearing to contest the notice of suspension and order to cease and desist.

The state said First Commercial's operating permit may be reinstated when the department receives more information, including an official list of all clients and an ingredient list for all products, and documentation showing operating procedures and testing are in place.

State health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said if anyone has products processed through First Commercial in their possession, they should return them to the place of purchase.

Okubo said any product that has already been opened should be discarded.

Consumers should not use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled, she said.

The state said First Commercial Kitchen conducted a voluntary recall for two products -- Ohana Flavors Black Bean Sauce and Barbs Black Bean Sauce -- on Jan. 20, after samples showed evidence of being improperly manufactured.

Improper manufacturing presents the potential risk of botulism, the state said.

The state said further inspections by health officials revealed numerous products that may present the same or other health risks due to improper production standards.

First Commercial has been unable to provide an accurate list of products made at their processing plant, the state said.

 First Commercial official Peter T. Kam said the list of clients taken off the business' Web site has not been updated and some haven't been his client for years.

 He said he is compiling a list of his clients.

Lydell Leona of 3660 on The Rise, said last night the restaurant has not done business with First Commercial in over five years, yet his company's products are listed.

Kam said tonight: "For 30 years, we have helped local people develop and manufacture products from their own recipes. This blanket recall implies that all products from my clients are an 'immediate and substantial hazard to the public health,' and unjustly tarnishes the good name and reputation of many innocent parties, without any evidence at all. Thus, I feel this recall was a premature action taken by our state Department of Health which may result in severe economic consequences, and lead to irreversible damage to the many small businesses who have relied on us for years, and is currently a significant part of our state economy. We will continue to work to address any concerns with all authorities on this matter to bring it to closure."

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