Michigan Man Sentenced To Prison After Selling Sweet Cider With E. Coli

A Michigan man was sentenced to up to four years in prison after pleading guilty to willful misbranding and adulteration of food products.

James Ruster, owner of Mitchel Hill Farm Ellsworth, MI, was sentenced to 14 to 48 months in prison plus fines on Feb. 18. Ruster’s conviction was the first under Michigan’s state food law.

“Mr. Ruster showed a blatant neglect for not only the safety of his food products, but the health of his customers. It’s tragic that people were so greatly impacted by his willful disregard for food safety rules and regulations,” said Jamie Clover Adams, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) director in a news release.

In October 2011, a MDARD food inspector investigated a consumer tip that Ruster was selling apple cider at a local farmers market. Mitchell Hill Farm had been previously licensed as a maple syrup producer but was not approved to produce sweet cider. After repeatedly being informed that he wasn’t meeting safe sweet cider production standards, Ruster continued to make and sell sweet cider.

MDARD received notification of an outbreak associated with Ruster’s sweet cider on Nov. 6, 2012. Subsequent investigation by the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, MDARD and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) determined the improperly processed sweet cider caused an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak putting four individuals in the hospital, including two children. Several individuals affected by the outbreak continue to report symptoms today, more than a year after consuming the sweet cider.

“No foodborne illness outbreaks have been associated with (sweet) cider producers following the GMPs or meeting the requirements of the law, and Michigan’s apple industry as a whole works closely with regulators to make sure production practices use the best science available to keep products safe,” said Clover Adams. “It is unfortunate that it takes a case like this to point out the potential for harm from producing food items in an unsafe manner.”

Ruster is also under an injunction prohibiting him from producing cider or violating the food law.

For more on this story, click here.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Apples & Pears Stories

Apples & PearsGrower Tells Consumers Where Their Pears Come From
August 13, 2014
Washington’s Stemilt Growers introduces Rushing Rivers as its new pear label. Read More
Apples & PearsPoland Asks U.S. To Import Apples Banned By Russia
August 12, 2014
Polish apples banned from Russia in response to western sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis. Read More
Apples & PearsSweeTango Unveils New Website
August 8, 2014
The redesign is part of fall marketing campaign designed to promote consumption. Read More
Apples & PearsWhen Longevity Meets Progress In Apple Growing
August 7, 2014
This year’s Apple Growers of the Year have perfected the art of their operation, evolving over time to meet the needs of their customers. Read More
Apples & PearsWhat’s In An Apple Cultivar’s Name?
August 6, 2014
Honeycrisp aside, sometimes all it takes for a successful new cultivar is superior characteristics. Read More
Apples & PearsMore Headaches For Apple Growers In Midwest [Slideshow]
August 5, 2014
A combination of stress over the past two growing seasons and winter injury is causing tree deaths. Read More
Apples & PearsNew York’s 2014 Apple Crop Forecast At 30 Million Bushels
August 5, 2014
Harvest in Empire State expected to begin Aug. 15 with yields above five-year average. Read More

The Latest

Apples & PearsNorthwest Pear Crop Estimate Revised Upward
August 26, 2014
Washington and Oregon pear growers forecast a larger size crop than that originally estimated. Read More
Apples & PearsGrower Tells Consumers Where Their Pears Come From
August 13, 2014
Washington’s Stemilt Growers introduces Rushing Rivers as its new pear label. Read More
Apples & PearsUSApple Takes First Place At Agricultural Editors’ Aw…
August 13, 2014
Organization is honored for web presence and healthy eating campaign. Read More
Apples & PearsRecord Apple Crop Expected In Washington
August 12, 2014
Growers, packers forecast harvest of 140 million boxes, exceeding 2012 record. Read More
Apples & PearsPoland Asks U.S. To Import Apples Banned By Russia
August 12, 2014
Polish apples banned from Russia in response to western sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis. Read More
Apples & PearsSweeTango Unveils New Website
August 8, 2014
The redesign is part of fall marketing campaign designed to promote consumption. Read More
Apples & PearsWhen Longevity Meets Progress In Apple Growing
August 7, 2014
This year’s Apple Growers of the Year have perfected the art of their operation, evolving over time to meet the needs of their customers. Read More
Apples & PearsWhat’s In An Apple Cultivar’s Name?
August 6, 2014
Honeycrisp aside, sometimes all it takes for a successful new cultivar is superior characteristics. Read More
Apples & PearsMore Headaches For Apple Growers In Midwest [Slideshow]
August 5, 2014
A combination of stress over the past two growing seasons and winter injury is causing tree deaths. Read More
Apples & PearsNew York’s 2014 Apple Crop Forecast At 30 Million Bus…
August 5, 2014
Harvest in Empire State expected to begin Aug. 15 with yields above five-year average. Read More
Apples & PearsBlack Stem Borer: Old Pest, But New Problem For New Yor…
August 4, 2014
This pest wreaks havoc in high-density orchards with wet soil conditions. Read More
Apples & PearsAn Awakening To The Value Of Biopesticides [Opinion]
July 25, 2014
With the entry of major suppliers into the biopesticide arena, whether or not biopesticides work is no longer the question. Now, people want to understand how they work. Read More
Apples & PearsPGRs: The Overlooked Piece Of The Biopesticides Puzzle
July 25, 2014
Yield and quality can be as important to growers as crop protection. Read More
Apples & PearsWashington Tree Fruit Associations Merge
July 24, 2014
Jon DeVaney will lead the new group, which is expected to become official Sept. 1. Read More
Apples & PearsMore Than 1,000 Apple Boxes Burned In Michigan Fire
July 23, 2014
Fifty firefighters fought a blaze that burned through more than 1,000 apple boxes at a fruit processing plant in Michigan. Read More
Apples & PearsNew York Apple Association Updates Website In Time For …
July 22, 2014
NYAA launches a new, consumer-friendly website. Read More
Apples & PearsUSDA Proposes Allowing Chinese Apple Imports
July 22, 2014
Move seen as a way to open up the lucrative Chinese market for exports from the Pacific Northwest. Read More
Apples & PearsHarvest Expected To Be A Week Late For Michigan Apples
July 21, 2014
Michigan State Extension educator says late spring behind delay. Read More