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Health Department finds pesticide residue on more basil crops

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 6:03 p.m. HST, May 11, 2012

The Department of Health has identified four farms from which fresh basil — a $5 million crop in Hawaii — was found to have unapproved pesticide residue.

Methomyl, a restricted-use pesticide not approved for basil, was found April 11 on plants from FAT Law Farm during a random sampling of produce March 13 at a wholesale distributor.

The farm is one of the major Thai basil producers in the state, and three acres of crop in Ewa were plowed under, and an additional 25 ready-for-harvest acres in Kunia were to be destroyed, valued in total at $157,000 wholesale.

The Health Department did not recall the basil since the amounts found — 0.045 parts per million (ppm) to 3.49 ppm — fell below the approved limits for other crops, ranging from 1 ppm for tomatoes to 6 ppm for parsley. There was also no cause for concern from ingesting minute amounts since the pesticide is allowed for use on other crops at higher levels.  

As follow-up to the FAT Law Farm discovery, on April 23 the Health Department took 10 samples of basil from five wholesale distributors, originating from six farms. Laboratory results on April 26 showed four farms, including FAT Law, had methomyl and dimethoate residue on its basil in violation of the federal and state regulations.

The additional farms were identified as S & Z Farm LLC, Green Produce LLC, and Luo's Plantation.

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