In evaluating some of this year’s top stories in food safety, it’s been found that news originating two to three years ago still made headlines in 2014.

One of those stories was that of the 2011 Jensen Farms (Holly, CO) Listeria monocytogenes outbreak traced back to contaminated cantaloupes that ultimately caused 33 deaths and one miscarriage. The cantaloupes were shipped after a July 2011 audit conducted on behalf of food safety audit firm PrimusLabs Corporation, giving the packing facility a “superior” rating of 96 out of 100.

After cantaloupe growers at Jensen Farms filed a civil lawsuit against the auditor, PrimusLabs sought to dismiss the case instead of pointing fingers back at Jensen Farms. In addition to their desire for the case to be thrown out, PrimusLabs maintained that the “production, distribution and eventual sale” of the contaminated cantaloupes was beyond the auditor’s control, thus refuting any and all blame indicated within the lawsuit.

What happened in 2014?
The lawsuit expanded to include major retailers such as Walmart and Kroger. Both chains received and handled shipments of the contaminated fruit. In May, Walmart reached a settlement, agreeing to pay 23 families of the deceased victims. One month later, Kroger filed a lawsuit against PrimusLabs, citing the auditor’s 2011 rating of the Jensen Farms facility as a “misrepresentation” of the farm’s true condition. The two brothers in charge at Jensen Farms were sentenced earlier this year to six months of home detention, followed by five years’ probation.