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Hawaii DOA Head: Enforcement of New Labeling Law ‘a Challenge’

Kona Coffee

Kona coffee cherries (DSC_4713)” by thtbln is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The head of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) yesterday said that enforcement of a new coffee labeling law requiring origin transparency will be “a challenge.”

In an announcement shared by the Hawaii Governor’s office and the DOA yesterday, DOA Chairperson Sharon Hurd suggested enforcement of the law will likely be driven by citizen complaints.

“Unfortunately, the law did not provide for additional inspection staff so enforcement of the new law will be a challenge given the other statutory responsibilities of the branch,” Hurd said. “However, the department will increase inspection of retail shelves statewide and may have to rely on complaint-driven enforcement for the immediate future.”

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Applying to all coffee products sold or displayed in Hawaii stores, the state coffee labeling rules are scheduled to take effect July 1.

The law requires all coffee products carrying a Hawaii geographical reference — such as Kona or Ka’u — to indicate the percentage (by weight) of coffee grown in that region. The law also stipulates that coffees labeled as “100% Hawaiian” must be both grown and processed within the state.

The law allows for aggregated blends, such as “10% Hawai‘i coffee blend and contains 90% foreign-grown coffee,” according to the DOA.

The labeling requirements apply to bulk coffee packages, as well as to ready-to-drink and single-serve coffee products.

The law was supported by the Hawaii Coffee Association and the Kona Coffee Farmers Association.

The state’s Measurement Standards Branch is tasked with enforcement of the law.

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