The Packer reports that a Colorado judge has refused to dismiss at least 24 cases filed against PrimusLabs by victims and their families related to the 2011 listeria outbreak involving cantaloupe from Jensen Farms.
Judge Charles Pratt filed orders Oct. 28 requiring the cases to move forward. The cases are among 66 victim cases pending in courts across more than a dozen states.
At least 147 people became sick and at least 33 died because of listeria infections after eating the Jensens’ cantaloupe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates at least 10 other people who had the outbreak strains of listeria had eaten the Jensen cantaloupe, but health officials had not confirmed the link when filing out death certificates.
Judge Pratt sided with the plaintiffs, saying PrimusLabs “knew or reasonably should have known that until it completed the audit the cantaloupe would not be released for sale to the public.”
Seattle food safety attorney Bill Marler, who is directly representing 46 of the victim plaintiffs directly and several more indirectly, declined to comment on Judge Pratt’s refusal to dismiss the cases against PrimusLabs.
In his order denying the PrimusLabs’ request to dismiss the victim cases and the cross claims filed by Frontera and Dillon’s, Judge Pratt said he is bound by law to allow the cases to proceed.
Here’s what we think of audits:
D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman
Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.