Colo farmers plead not guilty in listeria outbreak

Associated Press
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FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2011, file photo, co-owner Eric Jensen examines cantaloupe on the Jensen Farms near Holly, Colo. Jensen and Ryan Jensen, 33, brothers who owned and operated Jensen Farms, presented themselves to U.S. Marshals in Denver, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, and were taken into custody on federal charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. As many as 33 people died and more than 140 were hospitalized from Listeria found on Jensen Farms Cantaloupe. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

DENVER (AP) — The owners of a Colorado cantaloupe farm have pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from a 2011 listeria epidemic that killed 33 people.

Brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen were arrested Thursday on misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. They appeared in federal court later and were released on unsecured bonds.

Prosecutors say federal agencies determined the Jensens didn't adequately clean their cantaloupe.

Criminal charges in food-contamination cases are rare. Prosecutors say they're pursuing this case because of the number of deaths.

It was the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in 25 years. The federal Centers for Disease Control say people in 28 states ate the fruit.