Cantaloupe infections are traced to Jensen Farms' barn
The listeria outbreak related to cantaloupe that has so far caused 25 deaths and sickened more than 120 people, has been traced to a processing barn owned by Jensen Farms in Granada, Colorado. Federal authorities found the deadly bacteria on a conveyor belt that carried the fruit, as well as a melon drying area, a floor drain, and in other locations within the shed. The farm had "passed" a food safety audit by an outside contractor only days before the outbreak began, according to Eric Jensen, earning a score of 96 points out of 100!
Most food suppliers are required by retail purchasers to undergo these "independent" audits in order to sell their fruit. In this case, Jensen had contracted with PrimusLabs and it subcontracted the inspection to a Texas Company, Bio Food Safety. The president of the latter company disclosed that the auditing employee had been hired in March of this year, and claimed that he had received two one-week training courses. Incredibly, the company "thought he did a pretty good job" inspecting the facility and claimed it had reviewed the audit and "found no problems in how it was conducted or in the auditor's conclusions." According to the New York Times, when the president of thecompany was asked how its inspector could give high marks to a facility that was described by the FDA as a "breeding ground for listeria," he responded that "There's lots of variations as to how people interpret unsanitary conditions."
This is what passes for food safety in the anti-government, market-based economy that Texas Republicans like to celebrate. Hopefully Jensen and the "auditors" will pay enough in personal injury verdicts and settlements to prove that superficial, cheap food safety "audits" aren't profitable.