Colorado Farmers Avoid Prison Time After Listeria Outbreak

Eric and Ryan Jensen pleaded guilty to unintentionally causing outbreak that killed 33

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Two brothers whose Colorado farm was blamed for a cantaloupe listeria outbreak that killed 33 people and hospitalized 147 will not serve jail time.

Eric and Ryan Jensen were sentenced Tuesday to five years’ probation and six months under house arrest. Both brothers were ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution. They were facing up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.

The brothers pleaded guilty in October to introducing adulterated food into the U.S. food market after their farm was determined to be the source of contaminated cantaloupes. According to NBC News, the brothers were willing to plead guilty because the contamination happened “on their watch,” but they had not intentionally committed a crime. The brothers helped with the investigation, and met with families of the victims.

The brothers did not use chlorine spray to wash their cantaloupes, which put the produce at a greater risk for being contaminated with bacteria.