Wednesday, January 22, 2014

No Jail Likely In Deadly Cantaloupe Case

Eating cantaloupe made six Nebraskans very, very sick. 

One 81 year-old-man from Chadron died.  

The Colorado farmers who grew fruit tainted with Listeria will be in Federal District Court in Denver later this month for sentencing.  The brothers who own Jensen Farms, Eric and Ryan Jensen, were charged with six criminal counts of selling an adulterated food in 2011.  
According to, a news site for the produce industry, the Jensen brothers struck a deal with the U.S. Attorney that will keep the farmers out of jail.  They could have been sentenced up to six years in federal prison.
Distribution of cantaloupe food poisoning cases. (Map: CDC)

The food poisoning outbreak prompted a massive investigation by the Centers for Disease Control to trace the source of the bacteria that killed 33 people and sickened another 147 in 28 states.  The CDC traced it back to melons grown on the Jensen's Colorado farm.

Among the dead was George Drinkwater of Chadron, Neb. who ate the tainted melon for breakfast a couple of days in a row. reports there are currently 66 civil lawsuits pending across the country, filed by victims and their family members against the Jensens, distributor Frontera Produce, a food safety auditing company, PrimusLabs, and grocery stores that sold the cantaloupe, including WalMart. 
The Jensens filed their own lawsuit against Primus claiming they would not have shipped their fruit if the auditor had done its job and reported back that their operation was not up to standards.