Jensen Brothers Brought to Court


Colorado Department of Agriculture

Eric and Ryan Jensen of Jensen Farms in southeast Colorado were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Denver, Thursday, September 26, on misdemeanor charges for allegedly failing to use adequate preventive measures to clean their cantaloupes before shipping them for human consumption. The brothers could face maximum individual sentences of one year in prison and fines of $250,000.

Two years ago, a deadly outbreak of listeria, resulting from the contaminated cantaloupes, caused 33 deaths and 147 serious illness across the country. The Jensens are charged with six counts for each of the shipments sent out in the summer of 2011. A felony charge was not brought into the trial because prosecutors do not believe the contamination was intentional, only the result of failing to set their washing equipment to industry standards before shipping the produce to distributors. Their attorneys entered a not guilty plea in court on Thursday. The date for their next court appearance is December 2, 2013. There has been some speculation that a plea agreement may be worked out before a trial date, but no confirmation has been made at this time.

Produce farmers up and down the Arkansas Valley were hard hit by the national publicity received from what was generally termed, “Rocky Ford” cantaloupes in numerous reports, when in fact, the Jensen produce did not employ that term in marketing. A campaign by Colorado Agricultural officials the following year took great pains to explain the differences in an attempt to prevent a repeat in the downturn of cantaloupe sales across the country.

Brought to you by: Colorado East Bank & Trust

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