The case against Jensen Farms
Court documents in the case say the cantaloupe growers knew their fruit was possibly contaminated and that it needed to be washed before being packed and distributed.
The case information states the Jensens bought used potato packing equipment from Pepper Equipment Co. in May 2011. The Jensens had Pepper Equipment modify the packing machines so a pan could be attached to allow the cantaloupes to be bathed in a chlorine spray.
However, according to the case information, the Jensens did not hook up the spray wash.
“Investigation by the FDA and the Center for Disease Control determined that the defendants failed to adequately clean their cantaloupe” the government’s information states.
Jim Gorny, PMA’s vice president of food safety and technology, is quoted in government’s case information against the Jensen brothers. He was senior advisor for produce safety at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the time of the outbreak and the federal investigation.“Their actions allegedly resulted in at least six shipments of cantaloupe contaminated with listeria monocytogenes being sent to 28 different states. Ten additional deaths not attributed to listeriosis occurred among persons who had been infected by eating outbreak-related cantaloupe.”
Jim Gorny, PMA’s vice president of food safety and technology, is quoted in government’s case information against the Jensen brothers. He was senior advisor for produce safety at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the time of the outbreak and the federal investigation.
“According to James Gorny, … Jensen Farms significantly deviated from industry standards by failing to use an anti-microbial such as chlorine in the packing of their cantaloupes during the summer of 2011,” the case information states.
“Gorny added that the conveyer used in the process spread contamination and essentially ‘inoculated’ the cantaloupes with listeria monocytogenes. Dr, Gorny opined that the Primus Labs subcontractor that conducted the pre-harvest inspection of Jensen Farms was seriously deficient in their inspection and findings.”
National Editor Tom Karst contributed to this report.