Last week, Jensen Farms, the grower of the cantaloupe implicated in the Listeria outbreak of 2011, filed for bankruptcy. Prominently listed in the filing were lawsuits associated with the outbreak, from which 146 people were sickened and 36 died. According to the Denver Post, Jensen’s attorney said the filing should free up millions of dollars in insurance and other funds.

Foodborne illness attorney Bill Marler has filed at least 11 lawsuits and is representing almost 40 families or persons said to have been sickened or killed because of the contaminated cantaloupe. According to an article in Marler-published Food Safety
Continue Reading Today: Walmart, Kroger, Primus. Tomorrow: You?

On Jan. 10, 2012, a Congressional House report was issued on the government’s investigation into the cantaloupe Listeria outbreak. The report provided some very interesting findings and lessons not only for and about Jensen Farms but for and about the industry as a whole.

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Conducted by the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce, the investigation included a review of documents from and interviews with FDA; Jensen Farms; its distributor, Frontera Produce; and its third-party auditor, Primus Labs. And it was the information obtained from and about the audits that was highlighted as of most significant issue – and concern

Continue Reading Serious Questions About Third-Party Audits

The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce might have substituted a photo for its brief investigation report, released Tuesday, on the outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infection from contaminated cantaloupes at Colorado’s Jensen Farms.

That imaginary photograph would have brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen from Jensen Farms; Will Steele and Amy Gates, the CEO and executive vice president of Frontera Produce, which distributed the melons; Primus Labs president Robert Stovicek, from the auditing company;  and Bio Food Safety president Jerry Walzel, the auditing subcontractor, all standing in a circle, each pointing at the other.

Roughly speaking, the 8-page bipartisan staff

Continue Reading Congressional Probe Finds Many to Blame for Listeria Cantaloupe Outbreak

America’s most deadly incidence of foodborne illness in a century was 2011’s second-most important food safety story — the outbreak of listeriosis linked to whole cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, CO, that spread over 28 states, infecting 146 mostly elderly Americans.

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In its final report on the outbreak, issued Dec. 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 30 had died and one pregnant woman had miscarried. To find a larger outbreak of foodborne illness, one has to go back to 1911 Boston when streptococcus from raw milk infected more than 2,000 and killed 48.

Ten days after the final

Continue Reading Top Food Safety Stories of 2011: No. 2

A 28-state Listeria outbreak is over, with the sad distinction of being the most deadly outbreak of foodborne illness in the United States in 100 years.

In the end, one out of every five of the victims died from the Listeria contamination spread by a locally grown but widely distributed variety of cantaloupes from Colorado. Thirty of 146 persons infected did not survive. A miscarriage suffered by an Iowa woman was also blamed on outbreak-related listeriosis. 

It was Aug. 29 when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) received the first report of a Listeria infection. More reports

Continue Reading Listeria Cantaloupe Outbreak Ends As Most Deadly in 100 Years

An Oklahoma man who was hospitalized for a month after eating cantaloupe has filed a lawsuit against the grower and the distributor whose melons are at the center of the national outbreak of Listeria infection.

The suit was filed on behalf of Doyle Underwood, 68, of Smithville, OK, by the food safety law firm Marler Clark. The suit is the sixth filed by Marler Clark against Colorado-based cantaloupe producer Jensen Farms. The lawsuit also names Texas-based distributor Frontera Produce as a defendant.

According to the complaint filed in Federal District Court in Oklahoma, Doyle Underwood had eaten cantaloupe on multiple

Continue Reading A Sixth Lawsuit Filed in Cantaloupe Outbreak

A fourth lawsuit has been filed against Colorado-based Jensen Farms, whose Rocky Ford cantaloupe has been identified as the source of a multistate Listeria outbreak.

The lawsuit was filed in Canadian County District Court on behalf of the family of an Oklahoma man who died. The suit also names Frontera Produce, a Texas-based company that sold and distributed the Listeria-contaminated Rocky Ford cantaloupe in Oklahoma.

According to the complaint, William T. Beach ate Jensen Farms cantaloupe in early August, subsequently fell ill and was taken to the hospital by ambulance on Aug. 28 after he collapsed.

Mr. Beach was discharged

Continue Reading Fourth Lawsuit Filed Against Jensen Farms

The deaths of a Nebraska man in his 80s and a 95-year-old Missouri woman, plus five cases of Listeria infection in Kansas, were confirmed Friday by state health departments, increasing the toll in the multistate outbreak caused by contaminated cantaloupes from Colorado’s Jensen Farms.  

The confirmations bring the total number of people infected with outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes to at least 61, with 10 or more deaths.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not done an official update since Sept. 21 when it reported 55 persons sickened by Listeria monocytogenes in 14 states, with

Continue Reading Listeria Outbreak Toll Rises

Investigators found Listeria monocytogenes matching an outbreak strain in cantaloupe at a Denver-area store, and on equipment and cantaloupe at the Jensen Farms packing facility in Colorado, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday.

Four deaths among 35 infections have now been confirmed in 10 states in the cantaloupe-caused Listeria outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest update. Those numbers are likely to climb; tests are pending for several more listeriosis deaths and illnesses suspected to be part of the outbreak.

Jensen Farms, located in the Holly-Granada area on the east end of Colorado’s

Continue Reading Outbreak Listeria Found in Cantaloupes, Farm Equipment

By the time the first recall was announced Wednesday, major retail chains had already removed all Colorado-grown cantaloupes from their shelves in the face of a deadly, multistate outbreak of Listeria infection.

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Two days after a public warning linked Colorado’s popular “Rocky Ford” cantaloupes to more than a dozen illnesses, one grower in the Arkansas River Valley agreed to recall its product.

By then, nearly all Colorado-grown cantaloupes — an $8 million crop — had disappeared from the produce shelves of major grocers like Safeway, King Soopers and Whole Foods.  They acted after hearing the warning, not waiting for the

Continue Reading Cantaloupes Recalled in Deadly Listeria Outbreak