Men charged with introducing tainted cantaloupe to public after Listeria outbreak

DENVER, Colo. – Two brothers who operated and owned Jensen Farms in Granada, Colo. were taken into custody on federal charges for introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce on Thursday. Eric Jensen, 37, and Ryan Jensen, 33, turned themselves into U.S. Marshals in Denver according to the United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado. The adulterated food in question was cantaloupe and a 92-year-old metro man, Paul Schwarz, was one of 33 people who died from the Listeria contaminated fruit.

Court documents indicated that the defendants set up and maintained a processing center where their cantaloupes were taken from the field and transferred to a conveyor system for proper cleaning, cooling and packaging. They allegedly changed their methods in May of 2011 and set up a system intended to clean potatoes. A chlorine spray that was supposed to be included in the process to clean bacteria from the fruit was never utilized.

The brothers allegedly shipped at least six shipments of the Listeria contaminated cantaloupe to 28 different states. In addition to the 33 deaths there were also 147 hospitalizations according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Both Jensen brothers have been charged with six counts of adulteration of food and aiding and abetting. They each face a fine of $250,000 per charge and no more than one year in federal prison.

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