Who audits the auditors? How rockmelons can turn deadly
96% and a stellar audit rating did not stop a US rockmelon farm from selling contaminated melons that killed 33 people. How much responsibility should the auditor bear?
In 2011, whole rockmelons contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes sickened 147 and killed 33 people in the US. The rockmelons were traced to Jensen Farms in south-eastern Colorado. The two brothers who owned the farm were indicted with six federal misdemeanour charges for “introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce”. They each faced up to six years in prison plus up to US$1.5 million in fines.
After seeing their farm forced into bankruptcy, Eric and Ryan Jensen have just been sentenced with each receiving five years’ probation, six months of home detention and $150,000 each in restitution fees to victims. Victim families have already received $3.8 million from the Jensens’ insurance policy.
Now consumers have every right to expect that the rockmelon they purchase from the supermarket will not kill them and will not make them sick. But where does responsibility lie for this contamination disaster?
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