Wal-Mart settles with cantaloupe victims over 2011 listeria outbreak tied to Colorado farm

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Jensen Farms

DENVER — Wal-Mart is settling with several of the families of victims who died during a 2011 listeria outbreak that killed 33 people and was traced to Jensen Farms in Holly, in southeastern Colorado.

The company made the announcement Tuesday that it will settle with 23 families, including nine in Colorado. No terms were released.

Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove said stores removed the contaminated cantaloupe when it learned of the outbreak, but some families of the victims said it wasn’t fast enough.

Farmers Eric and Ryan Jensen pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges related to the outbreak and are serving five years of probation and six months of home detention. They also had to pay $150,000 each in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.

The charges against the Jensen brothers stemmed from the implementation of a new cleaning system at the farm in May 2011. According to court documents, the new system was intended to clean potatoes and included a catch pan where a chlorine spray could be used to clean bacteria off the passing fruit.

An investigation by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tied six shipments of contaminated cantaloupe that went to 28 states to the outbreak.

Jensen Farms filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

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