Rockmelons cause death

In unfortunate and quite possibly totally avoidable circumstances, two people have died from diseases that have been linked to the handling of rockmelons. It is not a story we normally hear. Rockmelons cause death. The deaths have been linked to listeria, a serious bacterial infection.


Listeria has been known to cause deaths in newborns and can be passed to unborn babies through the placenta. High risk categories of people also include the elderly and those in the community who immune system may already be weak or compromised. In most instances, the general population may confuse this disease with another root cause or illness, as symptoms can include fever, headaches, nausea and diarrhoea. Approximately 15 people die each year, according Australia and New Zealand food standards authority. Listeria is not just a food borne disease. In addition to being found in food products such as ice cream, bagged vegetables and cold chicken, it can be found in dirty water and soils.

Fruit that has been identified as being infected has been removed from shelves by NSW authorities. A general warning has been communicated to all consumers to be vigilant. Fruit that they may have already purchased the earlier could already be sitting in their fridge or fruit bowl a be a cause for concern.

Currently, 10 people have been identified as having contracted listeria from rockmelons. All ten people have been recorded as having eaten the fruit prior to getting sick. Interestingly, the bacteria is not actually in the fruit, it is on the skin. Bacteria can be transferred onto the flesh from the skin by contact, and then ingested with the fruit.

Lisa Szabo, CEO of the NSW Food Authority highlighted that pre-packaged items are the common cause for contracting listeria. People need to maintain good hygiene to avoid contracting the disease. For people working in and around food, completing a food handling certificate is highly recommended.