There have been a number of cases of food poisoning from Salmonella and 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 with Salmonella.
A NSW Health study showed that a number of NSW consumers fell ill with Salmonella poisoning after eating rockmelons. The study suggests whole and sliced rockmelons could contain Salmonella.
Rockmelons have been linked to Salmonella poisonings in the past, notably the United States during the 1950s, 1960s and in 2002.
As a result, the NSW Food Authority is advising consumers to take some simple precautions to minimise the risk from Salmonella in rockmelons.
Minimise the risk
These simple precautions will help minimise the risk of Salmonella 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.
High risk for vulnerable people
Food poisoning is highly unpleasant for most healthy adults but rarely produces serious health complications beyond diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal cramping and fever lasting several days.
But food poisoning in vulnerable people, such as children under 5 years, people over 70 years of age, diabetics, pregnant women, people with cancer and suppressed immune systems, can be extremely serious or even life threatening. People at risk should consult their local doctor as early as possible once symptoms appear.
That’s why the NSW Food Authority strongly recommends these people and people preparing food for them strictly follow the above safe food tips.