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No jail time in deadly food poisonings

Brothers get probation in cantaloupe contamination that killed 33

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DENVER — Two Colorado brothers who grew cantaloupe that sickened and killed 33 people in 2011 were sentenced Tuesday to probation.

Eric and Ryan Jensen, owners of Jensen Farms in Holly, were ordered to serve five years’ probation, with the first six months in home detention, as well as 100 hours of community service. Each was also ordered to pay $150,000 total in restitution to the victims and families.

Federal prosecutors had recommended probation after the Jensens agreed to cooperate, which included being confronted by their victims and expressing “sincere remorse,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.

“Today’s sentence serves as a powerful reminder of farmers’ legal and moral responsibility for ensuring their product is safe,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Because of the Jensen Farms case and this prosecution, changes have been made regarding how fruit is processed and transported across the country.”

The 2011 listeria outbreak, traced to the Jensen Farms’ cantaloupe, was described by the Food and Drug Administration as the deadliest U.S. foodborne illness outbreak since 1924. More than 125 people in 28 states became ill after eating the cantaloupe. The listeria contamination was traced by the FDA to the farm’s packing and storage facilities.

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