Eric and Ryan Jensen, the owners of a cantaloupe farm responsible for the 2011 listeria outbreak that killed over 30 people, have been arrested. The Jensens have been charged with a misdemeanor, introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. It's an effort on the part of authorities to prevent such an outbreak -- one of the biggest the country's seen -- from ever happening again.
I was confused at first when I heard about the charges. Surely, you can't arrest a farmer for growing tainted fruit -- it's not as though they could do so deliberately? But then I found out that the fruit most likely became unsafe while being packaged in the farmers' distribution facilities.
The packing facility sounds like it was in deplorable condition. In a room where food was being readied for shipment to all over the country, there was dirty water all over the floor. The equipment was outdated and hard to clean. If your primary occupation is providing people with food, isn't making sure that your facility can do that safely a no-brainer?
While criminal charges being pressed like this for food poisoning cases isn't common, this is a case where it is more than merited. When we go to the grocery store, we shouldn't have to stop and worry whether someone careless could be putting our lives at risk before we purchase their product. Here's hoping that their arrests will scare straight any less-than-clean farms and their products.
Do you think it was right that they were arrested?
Image via USDAgov/Flickr