HONOLULU, Hawaii: The company that manufactures Mahalo Hawai‘i Deep Sea bottled water at a facility at NELHA in Kona has reached a settlement with the state Department of Health over a recent enforcement action.
This past September, the health department issued a Notice of Violation and Order against Koyo USA Corp. for utilizing an unapproved manufacturing process for its bottled water from July 7, 2006 to May 19, 2011. Koyo is required to adhere to a specific process in making bottled water from the ocean. At the time, the state said a penalty of $5,044,193 was issued.
Today, the state says they have reached a settlement with the company. From a media release:
Koyo has agreed to pay the department a total of $2 million in two installments. The first $1 million payment was received by DOH on May 2, 2012. The second and final payment is due to the department no later than August 31, 2013.
The DOH Food and Drug Branch began an investigation of Koyo USA Corp. on May 18, 2011 in response to an anonymous complaint. The investigation confirmed Koyo USA Corp. had not adhered to the process for filtering ocean water approved by DOH in 2006. Instead, the company purposefully diverted concentrated ocean water that had been rejected by its reverse osmosis system and, through bypass piping, blended it into their final bottled water product. The department issued an Order to Cease and Desist on May 19, 2011. The DOH Food and Drug Branch in cooperation with the Safe Drinking Water Branch conducted an inspection of three other state-permitted deep sea water bottling companies in Kona and found them in compliance with state regulations. Destiny, Hawai‘i Deep Marine and Kona Deep brand bottled waters have not violated their permits and are not part of this notice and penalty.
Again, from the health department:
No recall or embargo of the Koyo bottled water product was initiated by DOH. Test results from independent laboratories and the state laboratory confirmed that consumption of the affected bottled water product did not pose an immediate and/or substantial risk to human health. Koyo performed a disinfection process prior to their water product being sold.
“The Koyo company staff and leadership have been cooperative in correcting the unpermitted drinking water filtration process,” said Gary Gill, Deputy Director for Environmental Health. “The settlement payments are being dedicated to support the department’s drinking water, food safety and laboratory programs.”
Koyo remains permitted by the DOH to filter ocean water at its Kona facility and produce a bottled drinking water product, which is marketed to consumers in Japan, Hawai‘i and elsewhere.
According to state, the DOH Food and Drug Branch “protects public health by ensuring food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices and related consumer products within the state are safe, effective and properly labeled. The DOH Safe Drinking Water Branch monitors drinking water quality and regulates water systems throughout the islands. The state laboratory tests water and food for contamination and performs a wide range of public health support functions. These programs and others within the department work together to ensure the health and safety of the people of Hawaii.”