There have been a number of cases of food poisoning linked to rockmelons. Overseas evidence suggests contaminated water, fertiliser, contact with pests/animals or insufficient cleaning of rockmelons prior to sale could be contributing factors to rockmelons becoming contaminated.
Rockmelons have been linked to Salmonella and Listeria poisonings in the past, notably Salmonella outbreaks in the United States during the 1950s, 1960s and in 2002. More recently there has been Salmonella linked to rockmelons in Australia in 2016 and a Listeria outbreak in elderly people linked to rockmelons in 2018.
There are some simple precautions to minimise the risk from foodborne illness in rockmelons. Vulnerable populations should avoid eating rockmelon.
These simple precautions will help minimise the risk of foodborne illness in rockmelons:
- Do not purchase melons that are bruised or damaged. If buying fresh cut produce, ensure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
- Fresh produce should be refrigerated within 2 hours of peeling or cutting. Leftover cut produce should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Wash hands with hot soapy water before and after handling fresh rockmelons.
- Cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops should always be washed with hot soapy water and cleaned after coming in contact with fresh produce, or raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
- Use clean cutting boards and utensils when handling fresh produce. If possible, use 1 clean cutting board and knife for fresh produce and a separate board and knife for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
See more from our member the NSW Food Authority