Pesticide contamination halts local green onion sales

By Ian Scheuring

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The discovery of an unapproved pesticide during a routine sampling of raw agricultural products has forced the Hawai'i State Department of Health to require the destruction and disposal of approximately 800 pounds of fresh green onions on Tuesday.

Wong Hon Hin, Inc., a Waianae farm, was notified on October 28 to cease the sale of all suspected green onion product until follow-up testing by the Department of Health can show no pesticide residue.

On October 17, routine monthly sampling of twenty different raw agricultural commodities was analyzed for the presence of pesticide residues. Officials found that the sample of green onions had 0.071 parts per million (ppm) of oxamyl, a pesticide that is approved for use on such vegetables as carrots and celery but is not approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on green onions.

Results of a follow-up sample from the farm were received the next day and indicated 0.309 ppm of oxamyl on the green onions. After the second positive test, the farm was notified of the results and told to dispose of the contaminated product.

No green onions will be allowed to be sold by the farm until subsequent samples indicate zero levels of oxamyl.

While the Department of Health believes that the crop of green onions tested on October 17 was distributed to consumers in Hawai'i, it does not consider the situation to be a significant threat to public health, citing the use of the pesticide in greater amounts on other crops.

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