April 23, 2018

Jensen Farms Cantaloupe Owners Arrested, Charged

Eric and Ryan Jensen, the owners of Jensen Farms that was the source of contaminated cantaloupe that caused a nationwide outbreak, were arrested today in Denver on charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FDA. The indictment charges the brothers with six counts of adulteration of a food and aiding and abetting.

GavelsThe Justice Department claims that the cantaloupe produced at Jensen Farms was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and the fruit was “prepared, packed and held under conditions which rendered it injurious to health.” Documents state that the defendants had a processing center that did not clean bacteria from the product. A system was installed in May of 2011 that was originally designed to clean potatoes, which are cooked before consumption. The system was designed to include a chlorine spray to kill bacteria, which was never used.

The documents also state that defendants were aware that cantaloupes could be contaminated with harmful bacteria if not sufficiently washed. The FDA and CDC determined that the defendants failed to adequately clean the cantaloupes. At least six shipments of contaminated cantaloupe were shipped to 28 different states.

The final CDC report on the outbreak totaled 147 people sickened and 33 people who died. In addition, one woman pregnant at the time of her illness had a miscarriage. Ten additional deaths not attributed to listeriosis occurred among persons who had been infected by eating outbreak-related cantaloupe.

U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a statement, “as this case so tragically reminds us, food processors play a critical role in ensuring that our food is safe. They bear a special responsibility to ensure that the food they produce and sell is not dangerous to the public. Where they fail to live up to that responsibility, and as these charges demonstrate, this office and the Food and Drug Administration have a responsibility to act forcefully to enforce the law.”

If convicted, each man faces not more than one year in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 per charge. The case was investigated by the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the State of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Comments

  1. Hallelujah!

  2. Tom Ambrosia says:

    Its about time these men and others like them are charged.
    BUT the states where the deaths happened, needs to bring them to justice for at a minimum manslaughter.
    The auditor and CB also needs to be charged for gross incompetence and should also be named in manslaughter charges and possibly conspiracy charges.
    To send an auditor for a certification audit and not ensure he/she knows what they are doing is criminal in my book.
    Had the auditor done their job and contacted the FDA/USDA to do an investigation on their own, just possibly these lives and the lives of the unborn child may have been saved.
    Farming and bacteria go hand in hand, but when a processor does not wash properly, use the proper chlorine rinse, sends the whole and cut melons to the lab for analysis that is criminal.
    If I was on the jury, they would be found guilty in a heartbeat.

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