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Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Health Department Orders Shutdown of Free Meal Service
By News Release @ 5:33 AM :: 827 Views :: Small Business, COVID-19

Update May 19, 2020: Ahmad Ramadan was given a green placard by the health department dated May 19, Allowing him to continue Da Spot and the operations of his kitchen at West Oahu college, where the Malama meals are produced. The health department now says he cannot yet begin Malama meals operations until he submits additional extensive paperwork. 

  *   *   *   *   *

Malama Meals Welcomes DOH Inspection

Organization is Committed to Full Compliance

News Release from Malama Meals, May 18, 2020

HONOLULU -- MAY 18, 2020 - Malama Meals, a public service that has provided nearly 350,000 free meals to individuals impacted by the Coronavirus Crisis, welcomes inspections by the Hawaii Department of Health to help better serve those in need. 

In response to a cease and desist order issued by the Hawaii DOH on may 15, 2020, Malama Meals organizers want to reassure the public that they are fully committed to complying with all recommendations made by the Department.

According to Ahmad Ramadan, one of the principal founders of the organization, "Food safety has always been at the heart of the Malama Meals program, and we are truly sorry for any misunderstandings.  Our commitment is to provide nutritious meals to those in need during the current crisis, so we will be certain to comply with all health department recommendations.  The health and safety of kupuna and others who benefit from Malama Meals is our top concern."

Malama Meals was started In 2/20/20 by a group of restaurant owners and other community leaders.   It has provided  350,000 free meals to over 100 locations on Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, and natives of Niihau

Ramadan added, "There is such an urgent need for programs like Malama Meals at this time.   Our passion is to provide free meals to those members of our community who desperately need them."

More information on Malama Meals is available at: www.MalamaMeals.org.

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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH ISSUES CEASE AND DESIST ORDER TO MALAMA MEALS FOR FOOD SAFETY VIOLATIONS

News Release from DoH, May 18, 2020

HONOLULU – The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) Food Safety Branch has issued a Cease and Desist Order to Ahmad Ramadan dba Malama Meals located at 91-100 Farrington Highway. The operation was preparing and providing meals on O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, and Molokai.

“The operation had multiple food safety issues as it prepared and packaged hot meals on O‘ahu and shipped them to the neighbor islands without proper temperature controls,” said Peter Oshiro, chief of the DOH Food Safety Branch. “Without proper controls, the risk of an outbreak of food illness is high and could have a devastating impact especially on those who are elderly and have underlying conditions.”

In response to a complaint, the DOH conducted an inspection of the food operation on May 15, 2020 and observed numerous violations indicating the operator did not have active managerial control over food being produced.

The following food safety violations were observed:

  • Food handlers were not monitoring cooking food temperatures of poultry.
  • Food handlers were not properly washing their hands.
  • The hand wash sink, which is restricted for handwashing only, was being used to store unclean items.
  • No paper towels were available at two separate hand wash sinks and no soap was available at one of them.
  • Improper cooling – Poultry was not cooled from 135°F to 70°F within two hours to reduce growth of pathogenic bacteria.
  • Improper and non-existent date/time stamp labeling for ready-to-eat foods being held at room temperature. Food temperatures were not being monitored to properly indicate correct time that product was removed from temperature control.

“Although we appreciate the work being done by Malama Meals and others involved in providing meals for distribution on O‘ahu, Kaua‘i and Molokai during these difficult times, we also need to be sure that health and safety guidelines related to food safety are strictly followed,” said Bruce Anderson, Director of the Department of Health. “Shipping prepared foods and distributing them to sometimes remote communities on the Neighbor Islands in a timely manner poses unique challenges. The last thing anyone needs is a widespread outbreak of food poisoning on top of concerns about COVID-19.”

The DOH Food Safety Branch protects and promotes the health of Hawai‘i residents and visitors through education of food industry workers and regulation of food establishments statewide. The branch conducts routine health inspections of food establishments where food products are prepared, manufactured, distributed, or sold. The branch also investigates the sources of food borne illnesses and potential adulteration, and is charged with mitigating foodborne outbreaks and/or the prevention of future occurrences. Health inspectors work with business owners, food service workers, and the food industry to ensure safe food preparation practices and sanitary conditions.    

For more information on the department’s restaurant placarding program go to https://health.hawaii.gov/san/.

To search and view food safety inspection reports of Hawai‘i food establishments and businesses go to https://hi.healthinspections.us/hawaii/

# # #

PBN: Hawaii health officials cite Malama Meals for food safety violations

CB: “It’s just really stressful that our good deeds have gone punished”

TGI: Meals flying over from O‘ahu

TGI: DOH targets Malama Meals

HNN: Non-profit that served meals amid the pandemic shut down by state

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