Owners Arrested in 2011 Listeria Outbreak from Cantaloupe

September 27, 2013 — In an unusual move, the owners of a cantaloupe farm linked to an outbreak of Listeria food poisoning in 2011 have been arrested, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Colorado.

Federal prosecutors in Denver arrested Eric and Ryan Jensen, the owners of Jensen Farms, on six misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. The brothers were released on $100,000 bond. If convicted, they could face up to six years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine per charge. The trial date has been tentatively scheduled for December 2.

According to court documents, the cantaloupes were processed on a machine that was originally designed for raw potatoes, which may explain how Listeria was introduced to the facility. The system included a catch pan where chlorine spray could be used to clean bacteria off the cantaloupe. However, the spray was never used.

An investigation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found evidence that the processing equipment was dirty, corroded, and hard to clean. Inspectors also found that pools of water potentially containing bacteria formed close to packing equipment.

According to the CDC Outbreak Investigation, 147 people in 28 states were infected with five sub-types of Listeria. At least 33 deaths were confirmed. In addition, one pregnant woman had a miscarriage. Ten other deaths occurred in people who were infected with outbreak-associated sub-types of Listeria, but the official cause of death was not listeriosis. The outbreak ended in October, 2011.

Crave Brothers Listeria Outbreak Appears to be Over

The multi-state outbreak of Listeria linked to Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese “appears to be over,” according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The outbreak infected six people in five states, including one person who died and one pregnant woman who had a miscarriage. No new illnesses have been reported since August 22, 2013.

The Listeria outbreak was linked to Les Frères, Petit Frère, and Petit Frère with Truffles cheeses made by Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company of Waterloo, Wisconsin.

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