retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Associated Press reports that federal prosecutors have filed "little-used misdemeanor counts of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce" against two men who owned "a southeastern Colorado cantaloupe farm linked to a 2011 listeria epidemic that killed 33 people."

The prosecutors said that the misdemeanor charges were the ‘‘best, most serious charge we could find," and acknowledged that the charges do not suggest that the contamination was deliberate or that the accused should have known about it. The two men - brothers Eric Jensen and Ryan Jensen - pleaded not guilty and were released on unsecured bonds.

Only four other people reportedly have faced such charges over the past 10 years.

According to the story, "The FDA has said the outbreak probably was caused by pools of water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean packing equipment at the Jensens’ farm, which later filed for bankruptcy. The agency said investigators found positive listeria samples on equipment and fruit at the operation’s packing facility."
KC's View:
What I don't have a sense of from the charges is whether the Jensen brothers were ignorant, incompetent, or just clueless. But people died ... and so there has to be some kind of justice.

I was curious, though, when I read this story. So I went online to see what charges and/or convictions might have taken place in the case of the Peanut Butter Corp. of America where, if I recall correctly, the evidence was pretty compelling that management thought that short term bottom line numbers were more important than cleaning feces off the equipment.

And I was happy to see a Bloomberg story from earlier this year that "Stewart Parnell, president of the now liquidated Peanut Corp., was charged along with three managers in a 76 count indictment unsealed yesterday in federal court in Albany, Georgia. He’s charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead."

I don't think there has been a disposition of that case. Though I continue to believe that whatever fines and jail time that Parnell and his folks might get hit with, they also ought to be forced to subsist on a steady diet of their own products.