Rockmelons linked to salmonella outbreak
Australia and New Zealand’s food safety authority, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) have issued a Salmonella warning. FSANZ have warned people in the community who are more vulnerable (i.e. aged persons, pregnant women, babies) to avoid eating rockmelon while it looks into the recent increase in reported cases of salmonella poisoning associated with the fruit. The disease was detected in South Australia on August 2 and nearly 50% of the affected patients involve children aged 5 and under. Salmonella infection is mainly caused by eating contaminated food and can cause severe gastroenteritis . Sliced melon can be easily contaminated and should definitely be kept refrigerated once sliced.
The contaminated melons were from a Northern Territory farm, Red Dirt and cases of reported infection have now passed 80 people. Since they have been made aware of the issue, Red Dirt has agreed to remove its fruit from the supply chain while the matter is being investigated. Unfortunately, Red Dirt had a food safety incident last year where it was required to relocate its operation to Western Australia. This was due to food hygiene issues and the requirement to halt the spread of Cucumber Mosaic Virus last year.
Spokespeople for Woolworths and Coles have confirmed that affected fruits have been removed from their store shelves. Ways to reduce the risk of contracting salmonella from rockmelons is not to purchase fruit that are damaged, refrigerating sliced or peeled rockmelons within two hours and washing your hands with hot soapy water before and after handling fresh rockmelons.