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Lawsuits filed by victims of a 2011 Listeria outbreak that killed four New Mexicans and severely sickened a fifth raise questions about the effectiveness of food safety inspections required by many retailers.

The New Mexico victims were among 33 people killed nationally by bacterial infections linked to cantaloupes grown at a farm in Colorado, making it one of the deadliest outbreaks of food-borne illness in U.S. history.

A focus of the five New Mexico lawsuits, and dozens of others in the U.S., is a California food safety auditing firm, PrimusLabs, that gave the Colorado cantaloupe packing operation a score of 96 percent and a “superior” rating just weeks before the outbreak, the lawsuits contend.

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