$5M Penalty For Deep Sea Water Manufacturer, Koyo
By Wendy Osher
A $5 million penalty was assessed against Koyo USA Corp. for alleged violations of state laws that outline the process for filtering ocean water for human consumption.
The Koyo USA Corp. was permitted to filter ocean water at its Kona facility. The bottled drinking that was produced was branded as Mahalo Hawai‘i Deep Sea and was sold in Japan, Hawai‘i and elsewhere.
The Hawai‘i State Department of Health’s Food and Drug Branch issued the Notice of Violation and Order against Koyo USA Corp. for the sale of bottled water from an unapproved source. The alleged violations occurred between July 7, 2006 and May 19, 2011.
The state began an investigation of the company 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, according to state health officials.
Instead, state officials say, 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.
There is no recall or embargo in effect. Test results from independent laboratories and the state laboratory have confirmed that consumption of the affected bottled water product does not pose an immediate and/or substantial risk to human health.
The state notes that Koyo performed a disinfection process prior to their water product being sold.
“Made in Hawai‘i means the highest quality,” said Gary Gill, Deputy Director for Environmental Health. “People expect Hawai‘i products to be completely safe and manufactured to the highest standards. Any company that cuts corners and violates this trust harms the reputation of our islands and the good name of every product made in Hawai‘i.”
There are three other state-permitted deep sea water bottling companies in Kona–none are part of this notice and penalty.
Since the discovery of the violation at Koyo USA Corp., the company has been cooperative in correcting the unpermitted drinking water filtration process. Koyo has 20 days in which it may contest the Notice of Violation and Order and request a hearing.
***Supporting information courtesy state Department of Health.