It seems like only yesterday we were eying every cantaloupe with suspicion in the midst of the listeria epidemic that sickened at least 100 and killed 33 people in 2011. It’s been two years since the Food and Drug Administration said it believed the outbreak was due to dirty equipment at cantaloupe farms, and now those melon farmers are pleading not guilty on charges linked to the outbreak.
The owners of Jensen Farms, two brothers, were arrested this week on misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, reports the Associated Press. They’ve appeared in federal court and have been released on unsecured bonds.
Prosecutors are sticking to what federal agencies found, accusing the owners of not cleaning their cantaloupe properly, causing them to be contaminated.
While it’s not every day that criminal charges are filed in such cases, prosecutors say the amount of deaths involved in the 2011 listeria outbreak have prompted them to take action.
Colo farmers plead not guilty in listeria outbreak [Associated Press]