March 23, 2023

After Deadly Listeria Outbreak, Jensen Farms Files Bankruptcy

Jensen Farms, the source of the 2011 cantaloupe Listeria outbreak that killed 35 people and sickened a total of 146 people in 38 states, has filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code.

Documents filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Denver on May 25, show that the farm, based Holly, Colorado, which earned about $5 million a year in 2009, 2010 and 2011, has between 50 and 99 creditors and faces seven personal injury lawsuits and 12 wrongful death suits.

The farm’s total assets are estimated to be between $1 million and $10 million while its total liabilities are estimated to be between $10 million and $50 million. Eric S. Jensen is listed as president of ESJ Inc., and general partner.

The cantaloupe Listeria outbreak linked to the farm was one of the deadliest in U.S. history killing 35 people and causing one miscarriage. The outbreak  began in mid-August and swept through 28 states sickening 146 people before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared its official end.

Unsanitary conditions on the farm were found to be the source of the outbreak including used packing equipment that was difficult to clean and standing water on the packing room floor. Just weeks before the outbreak,  the farm received high marks on an inspection from a third-party auditor. The incident prompted an investigation into the third-party auditing system that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses to oversee growing and processing facilities. The findings, published in a report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, showed that third-party auditors often don’t conduct audits according to FDA guidelines

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