Food Safety News reports, that a federal judge on Tuesday sentenced the two owners of the cantaloupe farm tied to a deadly Listeria outbreak in 2011 to five years probation, six months home detention, and $150,000 each in restitution fees to victims.
Brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen owned Jensen Farms in Colorado, where they grew the cantaloupes that sickened at least 147 people with Listeria and killed more than 30, making it one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in U.S. history.
The case has been a landmark in foodborne illness litigation, becoming one of the first instances in which food producers faced criminal charges for their contaminated food. While some felt that the Jensens should have received jail time for the amount of damage done to victims and their families, others – including prosecutors – saw probation as more appropriate given that there was no malicious intent behind the outbreak.
The brothers were facing a maximum of six years in jail and $1.5 million each in fines on six counts of introducing contaminated food into interstate commerce. Government prosecutors had suggested the lower sentence of five years probation earlier this month.