Two Colorado cantaloupe farmers are asking a federal judge for probation rather than jail time. Two years ago, a deadly listeria outbreak was traced back to cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms in southeastern Colorado. Brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen own the farm and in October pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. These federal charges can carry penalties of up to six years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.
The brothers’ attorney says jail time would be excessive. The Jensens have filed a lawsuit against an auditing company that gave the farm a “superior” safety report in 2011.
The tainted melons caused more than 30 deaths nationwide and sickened nearly 150. A sentencing hearing has been set for the end of the month.