Jensens seek probation as PrimusLabs denies liability - The Packer

Jensens seek probation as PrimusLabs denies liability

01/16/2014 05:56:00 PM
Coral Beach

Primus denies any liability to the Jensens or consumers. It contends the Jensens are to blame, partly because of the type of audit they requested.

The attorney representing Primus said the Jensens did not request any microbiological testing and that they requested their audit be done on a day when their packing facility had not yet begun operations for the season. He said the auditor did find areas of minor, major and “total noncompliance” but was still able to give a 96% score and a superior rating to Jensen Farms.

“I understand 96 seems incongruous,” said attorney Jeffrey Whittington, of Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan LLC. “People in the food industry know what that means.”

Whittington said auditors measure an operation against its own food safety plan and other points clients specifically request.

A superior score can be awarded despite possible deficiencies because the problems may not be in the scope of the audit. Also, Whittington said, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) prohibits third-party auditors from giving advice to clients.

“This litigation is really an unfair attack on the business model of third-party auditors because they have no ability to disclose results to anyone but their clients. They have no police power and there are no reporting requirements,” said Whittington.

However, the Jensens complaint against Primus says their contract with Primus called for the audit to be done on a day when they were operating normally and processing fruit.

“Pursuant to (Primus’) own guidelines, the audit was to be immediately terminated” if the packinghouse was not operating in a normal fashion, the Jensens contend.

Despite the fact that the packing shed was not yet operating, the auditor gave a perfect 15 out of 15 score and answered “yes” to the audit form question “are the products or ingredients free of insects/rodents/birds/reptiles/mammals or any evidence of them.”

The cantaloupe growers also say in court documents they would not have shipped their cantaloupe and no consumers would have been infected with listeria if they had not received Primus certification. The Jensens’ distributor, Frontera Produce, Edinburg, Texas, required suppliers produce to be Primus certified.

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USA  |  January, 17, 2014 at 01:32 PM

The Jensen's statement that prison time would be “a harbinger of the end of small American family farmers is erroneous. When you deliver through a broker (Fronterra) and ship to companies like Wal-Mart, you can't be a small farmer anymore! Regardless of the size, not every small farmer kills 33 people because of his filthy and reckless way to run a business. Everybody in the industry and also finally the consumer knows, the whole certification theater is not worth the paper it's printed on. Maybe at the few hours the certifier was on the premise it wasn't too bad. But what is with the other 364 days!? To get 6 years prison time is very human when you kill 33 people and insure hundredths. When a shooter kills one person he gets lifetime and Mr. President wants to outlaw all weapons in USA or his dream is in the whole world. In China they hang does irresponsible business people. So 6 years prison time is nothing for what you did!

Woodland  |  January, 20, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Comparing these guys to a shooter who is intentionally killing people is beyond flawed logic.

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