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Cantaloupe Farmers Get Probation in Listeria Outbreak Case

Two Cantaloupe Farmers Pleaded Guilty to Listeria Outbreak, Sentenced to Probation

listeriaTwo cantaloupe farmers in Colorado have been sentenced to five years of probation and six months’ home detention on January 28th after pleading guilty last year to causing a listeria outbreak that killed several people.

Brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen, who ran the now bankrupt Jensen Farms in Denver, faced a federal court on Tuesday. At their plea hearing, the two asked for probation because, they argued, justice had already been served after new food safety and inspection measures were passed in the wake of the 2011 whole cantaloupe listeria outbreak.

The listeria outbreak officially ended in October 2011. The Centers for Disease Control calculated five subtypes of listeria associated with the outbreak, which sickened 147 people, killed 33, and caused one miscarriage across 28 states.

Investigators from the US Food and Drug Administration said that the listeria outbreak likely began in the farm’s packing house, which had dirty water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment.

Months before the listeria outbreak, President Obama signed a new food safety bill into law that shifted regulators’ focus to preventing contamination, rather than simply responding to it.

The Jensen brothers pleaded guilty last year to counts of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. They could have faced up to 6 years in federal prison and $1.5 million in fines, but Judge Michael E. Hegarty said it was more important for the brothers to pay restitution, and probation would allow them to do that and continue to support their families.

A judge in the case estimated overall damages at $50 million. The brothers have already filed bankruptcy and paid $4 million in restitutions.

Listeria can cause a potentially fatal infection in those with compromised immune systems such as older adults, pregnant women, and young children. According to the CDC, there were 1,651 cases of listeriosis nationally between 2009 and 2011 – the infection was fatal in 21% of the reported cases.

The Strom Law Firm Protects Citizens Harmed by Outbreaks, Including Listeria

To protect yourself and your family, it’s important to know what products have been recalled because they are defective, contaminated, or unsafe. Federal agencies such as the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) frequently issue recalls for medical devices, drugs, and products that may be harmful to consumers.

The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm keep a close watch on recalls of dangerous and defective products in the US. We aim to protect our clients’ health and safety, and hold manufacturers to the highest possible standard of safety. Product recalls are especially important because defective drugs, medical devices, food, and toys can seriously injure or even kill consumers. If you or a loved one have experienced severe, life-limiting side effects from a defective food, product or drug, and believe that your pain stems from a product, drug, or food recall that came too late, you may be entitled to compensation. The Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so contact us today. 803.252.4800



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