Food Safety: A Big Concern in the United States
While consumers take precautions to handle food safely within their own homes, there is little they can do to ensure the food they purchase is not contaminated or adulterated. To a large extent, we rely on producers and vendors to ensure our food is safe. Sometimes it is not.
In 2010, cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Colorado contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes sickened 147 people across a 28-state area. A pregnant woman miscarried her baby, and 33 people died. Investigators found the following conditions on the now-bankrupt farm:
- Antiquated equipment used to clean potatoes was purchased and used to wash cantaloupe just prior to the outbreak. Given the age and condition of the machinery, the equipment was impossible to clean or sterilize properly.
- The farm failed to wash the cantaloupes with a disinfectant solution prior to sale.
- Flooring within the cantaloupe processing facility allowed water to pool near cantaloupes, possibly providing a vector for contamination.
- A truck used to haul cantaloupe to another agricultural facility was parked near the processing area.
In August of this year, Eric and Ryan Jensen, owners of the farm, were arrested on federal charges of introducing adulterated food into the food supply. Jensen Farms and the independent safety inspection service they used to certify their operation have been sued by those injured and killed in the outbreak. In October, the Jensen brothers pled guilty to failing to take steps to protect consumers from the prospect of contaminated produce.
While the Jensen Farms outbreak was serious, the recall of potentially tainted food is almost an everyday event. If you or a loved one is sickened by food you purchase or receive at a restaurant, speak with an experienced injury attorney in New Jersey.