Kahuku sea asparagus and ogo that may be tainted with salmonella went to retailers and farmers’ markets across Hawaii as well as customers as far as Washington state and Tokyo.
Marine Agrifuture LLC of Kahuku recalled its fresh seaweeds — “Kahuku Ogo,” “Robusta Ogo” and “Kahuku Sea Asparagus” — in a notice posted Monday on the Food and Drug Administration’s website that gave more details about their distribution.
The state Health Department had already ordered the company and its retailers to stop selling the seaweeds last week, after tests revealed salmonella bacteria in saltwater in packing and processing tanks at the Kahuku farm. It advised the public to discard any suspect product.
The seaweeds were sold primarily in Hawaii, but also went to some customers in California, Washington, Nevada and Tokyo, according to the recall notice.
As of today, 15 people in Hawaii have contracted salmonella in the outbreak linked to the seaweed, according to Jonathan Hilts, a Health Department spokesman. Four have had to be hospitalized.
Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, usually within 12 to 72 hours after infection. Most people recover without treatment in several days but some need hospitalization. The infection is especially risky to young children, the frail and the elderly, and can be fatal.
Company President Wenhao Sun apologized for the situation and said the company was working closely with the Health Department to identify the source of the contamination.
“I’m very sorry about this — I am sorry for the customers who were inconvenienced and the cost to businesses,” he said. ”But I want people to know that we are fully cooperative with the Department of Health to find the cause of the problem and fully mitigate the contamination risk. We look forward to solving the problem and then coming back to serve our customers.”
His company, also known as Olakai Hawaii, has been in business for 10 years, raising seaweed in Kahuku on Oahu’s North Shore. It advised distributors and retailers to dispose of the seaweed and contact Marine Agrifuture so their accounts can be credited, according to the recall notice.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that salmonella causes 1 million foodborne infections annually in the United States.
The FDA recall notice may be viewed here: http://bit.ly/2f2zqoE