September 28, 2022

Judge Orders Cantaloupe Listeria Cases Against Primus Labs Move Forward

District Court Judge Charles Pratt has ordered that dozens of cases filed against Primus Labs in connection with a the deadly cantaloupe Listeria outbreak of 2011 move forward. Primus, a third-party auditor,  gave cantaloupe grower Jensen Farms a superior rating just weeks before the outbreak.

Cantaloupe SlicesIn January, Primus filed a motion to dismiss the cases saying that the damage caused by the contaminated cantaloupe was outside its control. On October 28, Judge Pratt denied the motion saying, “the auditor should have reasonably recognized that the audit was necessary to protect the public from exposure and consumption of harmful cantaloupe” and that “failure to exercise reasonable care in conducting the audit increased the risk to the public from exposure to and consumption of harmful cantaloupe.”

The outbreak, which took place from August to October in 2011, sickened 147 people in 28 states. Thirty three people died. Seven of the case patients  were pregnant women, one of whom suffered a miscarriage. Three others gave birth to infants with listeriosis.

The outbreak, considered one of the deadliest in history, was attributed to unsanitary conditions on the farm. Health officials found used packing equipment that was difficult to clean and standing water on the packing room floor during their post-outbreak inspection.

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