Listeria risk from rockmelons

Listeria risk from rockmelons

Tasmanians who are most vulnerable to Listeria infection are being warned avoid eating rockmelons already in their home after a recent spike in Listeria cases in Australia has been linked to the fruit.

Acting Director of Public Health Scott McKeown said Listeria was a bacteria found widely in the environment and rarely causes serious illness in the general population but for vulnerable people, such as those who are aged over 70, pregnant, or have diabetes, cancer or suppressed immune systems, it can be extremely serious or even life threatening.

“As a precaution, vulnerable consumers should throw away any rockmelons in their home by double bagging them in plastic and placing in the rubbish bin.”

Dr McKeown said authorities were investigating whether a recent Listeria case in Tasmania was linked to the rockmelon outbreak. The person was treated and has since recovered.

Nationally, two people have died from Listeria linked to rockmelons.

The outbreak has been linked to a particular grower in NSW. The company has voluntarily ceased production. We have confirmed that rockmelons from this grower have been distributed to Tasmania.

“Affected rockmelons are being removed from supermarkets, so consumers can be assured rockmelons currently available are not affected by this outbreak.”

“Listeria infection starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea. The symptoms can take a few days to six weeks to appear after eating contaminated food.”

“People at risk should consult their local doctor as early as possible if symptoms appear.”

Listeria bacteria are quite common in the environment and vulnerable people are encouraged to always avoid foods that pose a risk of Listeria infection, including:

  • Pre-cut melons such as rockmelon or watermelon
  • Pre-packed cold salads including coleslaw and fresh fruit salad
  • Pre-cooked cold chicken, cold delicatessen meats, pâté
  • Raw seafood, uncooked smoked seafood (e.g. smoked salmon)
  • Unpasteurised milk or milk products, soft cheeses (e.g. brie, camembert, ricotta or blue-vein)
  • Sprouted seeds or raw mushrooms

Listeriosis Fact Sheet