The owners of a cantaloupe farm in Colorado were arrested on Thursday on charges from a 2011 listeria outbreak that ended up killing 33 people. The Inquistr reported on Sept. 27, 2013, that one of the nation's deadliest outbreaks of foodborne illness ever has finally seen something happen in the investigation.
Brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen were arrested on misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. Federal prosecutors have reported that each man faces six counts. They have already pleaded not guilty in federal court and were released on unsecured bonds.
The trial for the Jensen brothers is set for Dec. 2, 2013.
Criminal charges in food poisoning cases are said to be very rare, according to attorney William Marler, who represents many of the listeria victims in civil cases against Jensen farms. Throughout the past decade, there have only been four other people that have faced such charges as the Jensens have.
According to the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Jensens did not adequately clean the cantaloupe before sending it out.
33-year-old Ryan Jensen and 37-year-old Eric Jensen could face up to six years in prison and up to $1.5 million in fines if convicted of all six counts against them. The Jensens' farm filed for bankruptcy after the outbreak.
Both men released a statement after their listeria arrests and hearing, and they said it was a "terrible accident."
There have been numerous lawsuits filed by people that were sickened during the listeria outbreak or had a family member die.