HONOLULU - The state Department of Health is ordering Meadow Gold Dairies to stop distribution and sale of two-percent reduced fat milk after lab results shows that milk samples exceeded standard limits for Coliform bacteria.

“Milk production is regulated with routine testing both at the farm and after packaging to ensure a safe product,” said Peter Oshiro, program manager of the DOH Sanitation Branch. “Department of Health inspectors will work with Meadow Gold Dairies to investigate the possible source of contamination, approve a plan of correction, and conduct further testing to confirm the company meets the standards to resume two-percent reduced fat milk distribution and sale.”

Oshiro says this is not a recall.  He says it is a quality control issue and the health department is trying to stop it from becoming a public health issue.  Those who already bought the two-percent reduced fat milk can drink it.

Samples of two-percent reduced fat milk taken from Meadow Gold Dairies on Jan. 19, Feb. 6 and 22, 2017, revealed excessive Coliform counts of more than 150/ml, 130/ml and more than 150/ml respectively. The maximum allowed Coliform limit for pasteurized milk is 10/ml. Coliform is used an indicator of post-pasteurization contamination.

DOH conducts monthly testing of samples of all Grade A raw and pasteurized milk produced at dairy farms and milk plants in Hawaii. State and Federal regulations require that samples be taken a minimum of four out of every six months, though most jurisdictions in the nation, like Hawaii, conduct sampling every month. DOH may also accelerate routine sampling of a specific product whenever product samples do not meet required standards.

To resume distribution and sale of two-percent reduced fat milk, Meadow Gold Dairies must pass health inspections and undergo additional testing of product samples. All other milk products from Meadow Gold Dairies meet state and federal standards required for distribution and sale.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention says most coliform bacteria are a normal part of the environment.  But, some rare types of coliforms, such as E. coli, can cause serious illness.

Meadow Gold released the following statement:

Meadow Gold Dairy is committed to producing the highest quality products available and is taking this situation very seriously. We test our products regularly before, during and after processing to ensure quality, and it’s important to understand that product being sold in stores is not affected. We have not received any consumer complaints.

We are quickly and carefully reviewing all the available information and completing a very rigorous battery of tests, assessments and analyses. We will work with the Department of Health to understand their test results and identify a proper course of action.

All our current internal testing indicates no quality or safety concerns, yet until regulatory testing confirms the same, we have been asked to stop production of 2% milk at our Honolulu plant. In order to continue supplying milk to consumers in Hawaii, we are moving the production of 2% milk to other facilities, including our processing plant in Hilo on the Big Island. As the Department of Health has said, no other milk products are impacted at this time.