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Food Safety Focus (141st Issue, April 2018) – Food Incident Highlight

Rockmelons and Listeria monocytogenes

In March, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) through its Food Incident Surveillance System, noted some Listeria monocytogenes (LM) contaminated rockmelons produced from a farm had caused illnesses and deaths in Australia and were being recalled. The CFS immediately took follow-up actions and found several local importers had imported the affected products. Following the CFS' advice, the importers initiated recall. 

LM is a bacterium commonly found in soil and decaying vegetation. Rockmelons have a rough surface that can habour the growth of bacteria. Unlike many other foodborne bacteria, LM can survive and multiply at refrigerator temperatures. Foods that have been reported to have LM contamination are usually ready-to-eat foods with long shelf lives under refrigeration. LM could be dangerous to pregnant women (unborn foetuses), newborns, the elderly and people with weakened immunity. 

The CFS advises consumers and the trade to wash and scrub the surface of the whole rockmelon with a clean brush under running water before cutting it, and consume/sell cut rockmelons as soon as possible.