Farmers tied to listeria outbreak to plead guilty

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Two Colorado cantaloupe farmers are expected to plead guilty under a deal with federal prosecutors in the 2011 listeria outbreak that killed 33 people.

Eric and Ryan Jensen have a change-of-plea hearing scheduled in federal court in Denver on Tuesday. They were charged last month with introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. At the time, the Food and Drug Administration said the rare move was meant to send a message to food producers.

Criminal charges are rare in food-borne illnesses, but the FDA under President Barack Obama has been more aggressive in pursuing farmers and food processors for alleged lapses.

The brothers filed documents last week notifying the court that they would plead guilty to unspecified charges under their agreements.

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