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Cantaloupe farm files bankruptcy in wake of listeria deaths

May 25, 2012
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photo - In this Sept. 28, 2011, photo, cantaloupes rot in the afternoon heat on a field on the Jensen Farms near Holly, Colo. Pools of water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment at the farm's cantaloupe-packing facility were probably to blame for the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in 25 years, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. Government investigators found positive samples of listeria bacteria on equipment in the Jensen Farms packing facility and on fruit that had been held there. Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE
In this Sept. 28, 2011, photo, cantaloupes rot in the afternoon heat on a field on the Jensen Farms near Holly, Colo. Pools of water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment at the farm's cantaloupe-packing facility were probably to blame for the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in 25 years, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. Government investigators found positive samples of listeria bacteria on equipment in the Jensen Farms packing facility and on fruit that had been held there. Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE 

A Colorado farm that was traced to a listeria outbreak in cantaloupe last year has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Jensen Farms declined to comment on its filing Friday. Its attorney Jim Markus told The Denver Post (http://bit.ly/KTUDbK ) the filing should free up millions of dollars in insurance and other funds that could be distributed to victims.

The outbreak was blamed for 32 deaths. It infected 146 people in 28 states. Federal investigators have said old, hard-to-clean equipment at Jensen Farms and pools of dirty water on the floor probably were to blame.

Court documents show the farm had $4.8 million in revenue in the past 12 months. It lists $2.1 million in assets, $2.5 million in liabilities, and $1.6 million in payments outstanding from food distributor Frontera Produce.

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