Some 500 coffee-growing kits have been pulled from Longs Drugs stores shelves after officials discovered they included African coffee seeds that are not permitted in the islands.
All but 10 of the kits have been accounted for — six were sold on Kauai, one on the Big Island, and three were sold on Oahu.
One shipment of the kits arrived in Hawaii over a week ago; however, the state is still investigating how they made it to stores.
Coffee plants and seeds are required by law to be held in quarantine for at least a year to inspect the vegetation for diseases. Proper permits and certification are also required for manufacturers. Regulations are set to protect Hawaii’s coffee industry from outside infestations.
“Even though a coffee seed may look clean on the surface, it may carry microscopic insect eggs, parasites and diseases that could be devastating to Hawaii’s coffee industry,” said John McHugh, administrator of the state Department of Agriculture Plant Industry Division.
A customer first discovered the kits on Kauai on Tuesday and contacted the University of Hawaii. The HDOA and Plant Quarantine were subsequently notified.
“The department relies on the efforts of its many partners in the state, federal and public sector to help address Hawaii’s biosecurity,” said Scott Enright, chairman of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.
All of the kits that have been collected have been destroyed.