Esaki’s Produce disputes health warning

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Earl Kashiwagi of Esaki’s Produce looks over romaine lettuce that arrived in the firm’s Kapaa warehouse Tuesday afternoon.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Earl Kashiwagi checks out a carton of romaine lettuce that was unloaded at Esaki’s Produce in Kapaa Tuesday afternoon.

KAPAA — Contrary to the recommendations by health officials, Earl Kashiwagi of Esaki’s Produce said the romaine lettuce being brought in by the biggest produce wholesaler on the island is pretty safe to eat.

“One of the good things about living in Hawaii is that by the time we eat something, there are people on the mainland who have been eating it for 10 days,” Kashiwagi said. “If they aren’t ill from eating it, we’re pretty safe.”

Health officials in the United States and Canada told people Tuesday to stop eating romaine lettuce because of a new E. coli outbreak that has sickened 32 people in 11 states, and 18 people in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, Canada, states an Associated Press story.

Many local stores, including Times, Safeway and Costco, and restaurants stopping selling romaine Tuesday.

“We’ve had customers calling since the story broke around lunchtime,” Kashiwagi said. “There are stores that actually pulled the romaine off shelves. We’ve had restaurants calling about the safety of the lettuce. But, once the certification letter was produced, the products became available.”

Kashiwagi said Esaki’s has a certification letter from its primary supplier, Tanimura &Antle farms in California, outlining the Center for Disease Control and Prevention advisory regarding the possible contamination of all types of romaine lettuce with E. coli. The letter states that there is no indication Tanimura &Antle romaine is linked as a source in the investigation, and has not initiated a recall of romaine lettuce products.

He added that Esaki’s also works with local farmers that haven’t been involved in any recall.

Kashiwagi said it’s more than just living with programs and food safety.

“We gotta live with our conscience, too,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to get sick.”


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or

  1. sheeples November 21, 2018 5:19 am Reply

    The crazier thing is that we are shipping romaine in all the way from california. Aquaponics guys on this island are harvesting 1000’s of pounds per week but it’s all going to the restaurant industry to give the tourists “fresh local” produce.

  2. ruthann jones November 21, 2018 6:45 am Reply

    ‘pretty safe’…yikes, I’ll pass!

  3. ProfitsOverPeople November 21, 2018 8:16 am Reply

    It will always be Profits over People. Boycott Esaki’s until they put people’s health and safety over the bottom line.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving and Eat Safe Kauai!!!!!

    1. MisterM November 21, 2018 11:54 am Reply

      PoP, what are you blathering about? The store has certification from the grower. You think every bit of lettuce is contaminated?

      Let’s see you grow your own food and see how quickly you change your tune…

      1. STFUmisterM November 21, 2018 9:54 pm Reply

        mm you clown! You grow your own food bih? You a trick and a good lap dog. Remember when the west side Chem/Bio companies said all was good? What now chump? They were proven wrong, gone fined, sued, and now there’s a law banning their toxic chemicals in the state of Hawaii and soon more state will follow. Sheep will always be herded to be slaughtered so keep on riding that short bus window licker.

  4. tunataxi November 22, 2018 10:52 am Reply

    Boycott Esaki’s…. who do you think brings in most of the produce you eat ?? Good luck with those canned vegetables

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