Two Colorado farmers responsible for a listeria outbreak were arrested on Thursday, according to USA Today on Sept. 26. Eric and Ryan Jensen of Jensen Farms face six misdemeanor counts after authorities determined that their mishandling of their cantaloupe produce led to a listeria outbreak that killed 33 people.
While investigators do not seem to believe the brothers purposely spread the listeria, it is believed their poor farming practices caused the outbreak. The Colorado farmers were arrested and face charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. The Jensen brothers could face up to six years in prison along with up to $1.5 million in fines.
The listeria arrests are unusual, as it seems only four others have ever faced charges like this in the past decade. The charges are misdemeanors, as prosecutors would have had to prove intent to charge them with felonies. The 2011 cantaloupe listeria outbreak killed at least 33 people and another 147 became ill.
Jensen Farms has since gone bankrupt. Do the listeria arrests seem fair? The Colorado farmers arrested have said in a statement that the listeria outbreak was “a terrible accident” and they indicated they are quite shocked by it. Despite their intent, many died from the listeria that seemingly resulted from the choices made at Jensen Farms.
The men involved in the listeria arrests will face trial beginning Dec. 2.