Listeria Arrests: Farmers Charged After Outbreak


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There was a recent outbreak of Listeria in a Colorado town, resulting in the arrests of two farmers. The arrests happened on Thursday and are involved in what is being considered the deadliest outbreak of food-borne illness in our country in at least 75 years. The charges are being brought against two farmers of cantaloupe, who unknowingly grew and shipped their cantaloupe without realizing that it was contaminated.

The charges being brought on the two farmers are connected to a 2011 listeria epidemic that resulted in the deaths of 33 people and the hospitalization of 147 more. Farmer practices can be very harmful depending on what is done to the product and it is important that people are held accountable for what they do. The owners of the cantaloupe farm, Eric and Ryan Jensen, were arrested on misdemeanor charges for introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, according to The New York Times. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that people living in 28 states have consumed the contaminated cantaloupe, making it more of a widespread problem than just in Colorado.

The prosecutors in the case reported that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration had concluded that there had not been a proper cleaning of the fruit before shipping it out to the public. The Jensen brothers operated their farm in southeastern Colorado, but the farm was forced to file for bankruptcy after the outbreak. These charges are unprecedented, but some people feel that the government needs to hold them accountable for the outbreak, in order to prevent it from happening again, states FOX Denver.

Documents from the court claim that they used a cleaning tool that was intended for potatoes, and never used a chlorine spray on their cantaloupe. Eric and Ryan Jensen are out on $100,000 bond. Each of them face up to six years in prison and $1.5 million in fines, if they are convicted on each of the six misdemeanors. Their trial begins in December. The families of the ones who died are fighting in this case and while it is too late to bring in their family members back, they hope that this will be a wake-up call for food manufacturers and force them to pay more attention to food-borne illnesses in the future.

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