Bad Cider Leads to Prison Sentence for Farm Owner

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ELLSWORTH, Mich. (AP) -- A northern Michigan man has been sentenced to up to four years in prison after improperly processed apple cider led to an E. coli outbreak and hospital stays for two adults and two children.

James Ruster is the first person convicted of a felony under Michigan's Food Law. Ruster owns Mitchell Hill Farm in Ellsworth, about 30 miles northwest of Traverse City.

He pleaded guilty to willful misbranding and adulteration of food products and was sentenced this week.

The state says apple cider was being sold in 2011 at a farmers market although Ruster was licensed as a maple syrup producer. Ruster was warned that safe production standards were not being met, but continued to make and sell cider.

The E. coli outbreak was reported the following year.

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