The Hawaii Department of Health Sanitation Branch has ordered Marine Agrifuture LLC (also known as Olakai Hawaii) to cease and desist selling products because Salmonella bacteria was found in the packing and processing tanks and in the farm environment. The farm is located in Kahuku on Oahu.
The press release states that “reports of Salmonella infections on Oahu were linked to consumption of ogo (or limu) and subsequently led to the investigation of Marine Agriculture LLC on November 2 and 7, 2016. During the investigation, testing was conducted on environmental, processing area, and ogo samples. Laboratory tests identified Salmonella bacteria in the packing and processing tanks and in the farm environment.” The patients in this outbreak were sickened in mid to late October, 2016.
The products that are banned include Kahuku Ogo, Robusta Ogo, and Sea Asparagus. Distributors and retailers have been notified that they must remove these products from sale or distribution immediately. And if any members of the public have purchased these products, they should throw them away in a sealed container or return them to the place of purchase for a refund.
Marine Agrifuture is a major distributor of ogo and sea asparagus in Hawaii, according to the press release. Its products may have been shipped to all of the islands in Hawaii and may have been shipped to California and Washington state too. Public health officials are confirming all locations and states and will update information as needed.
Marine Agrifuture will be allowed to resume their sale of these products once they have demonstrated to the Department of Health that the risk of contamination has been mitigated at the source. They must also implement sanitation practices to stop contamination during food processing and production.
Fourteen people were sickened in the Salmonella outbreak linked to the raw fish made with limu. Four of those patients were hospitalized because they were so seriously sick.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, chills, headache, and muscle pains. Symptoms usually begin six to seventy-two hours after exposure to the bacteria. If you ate limu poke in Hawaii in October 2016 and experienced these symptoms, see your doctor. Fourteen cases have been confirmed in this outbreak, but Salmonella infections are very underreported. The multiplier that investigators use in these outbreaks is 30.3. That means that more than 400 people may have been sickened.