September 25, 2018

Jensen Farms Fined for Unsanitary Housing

The owner of Jensen Farms, which was the source for last summer’s deadly Listeria outbreak in cantaloupe, was fined $4,250 by the U.S. Labor Department for not providing safe migrant worker housing.

Eric Jensen, the owner of the farm, rented unsanitary and overcrowded rooms at a motel that he owns. The inspection found that the rooms lacked beds, smoke detectors, and laundry facilities. The fine wasn’t linked to the outbreak.

An FDA investigation found that the packing room floor held pools of dirty water, and old equipment retrofitted to process cantaloupe were most likely to blame for the outbreak. And the farm had ended antibacterial washes for the produce and the step of “pre-cooling” the cantaloupe when they were brought in from the fields.

Chad Frasier, the Wage and Hour Division’s district director in Denver said in a statement, “profiting at the expense of vulnerable workers is not just inhumane, it’s illegal. Our agency is committed to upholding wage and hour laws that protect the nation’s workers, particularly those who earn the least and are vulnerable.”

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