DENVER - Two Colorado farmers whose cantaloupes were tainted with listeria have filed a lawsuit blaming a food-safety auditor that didn't pick up safety problems and gave the farm a "superior" rating just a month before the nation's deadliest case of foodborne illness in a quarter century.
Eric and Ryan Jensen owned Jensen Farms, which sold melons connected to a 2011 listeria outbreak that killed 33 people. The Jensens were charged last month with introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce and are expected to plead guilty Oct. 22 under a deal with federal prosecutors.
The Jensens filed a lawsuit Tuesday against PrimusLabs, a Santa Maria, Calif., food safety auditor that checked Jensen Farms in July of 2011. The PrimusLabs auditor didn't note that the Jensens' processing system posed a risk of contamination.
A call to PrimusLabs wasn't immediately returned.