A nationwide health alert has been issued after a listeria contamination linked to a New South Wales melon grower has resulted in two deaths.

The NSW Food Authority released a statement confirming 10 cases of listeria have been reported in elderly patients across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland with illness notification dates between 17 January and 9 February.

The contamination has been linked to a grower in Nericon, with the company voluntarily ceasing production on 23 February after being notified of the link.

Australian Melon Association industry development manager Dianne Fullelove told ABC the grower was devastated.

“Nobody wants to grow fruit that makes people sick,” says Fullelove.

“He has a very good food safety system in place but there has been a problem and he’s bending over backwards now to work out where that problem is.

“He won’t be supplying fruit until that’s been sorted out.”

The Food Authority is advising people who are elderly, pregnant, have weakened immune systems or illness to avoid eating rockmelon.

All affected melons have been removed from the supply chain. However, people may still have infected melons at home, with authorities urging consumers to dispose of previously purchased rockmelon.

The Food Authority has also confirmed rockmelon currently available is safe to consume and is not affected by the outbreak.

Image credit: Mum’s Grapevine

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