Departmental (media releases)
12 November 2018
Food poisoning affects more than four million Australians every year and can range from mild to fatal in the worst case and it needs to be taken seriously in order to reduce people’s risk of being affected.
That’s the message of the Food Safety Information Council’s Australian Food Safety Week that begins today Saturday 10 November 2018.
Acting CEO of the NSW Food Authority Eric Davis said Food Safety Week is an opportunity to remember that food poisoning isn’t always just an upset tummy and an excuse for a day off work, it can have very serious health consequences, particularly for those people considered to be most at risk.
“Unfortunately we saw a Listeria outbreak associated with rockmelons earlier this year that had devastating consequences with the deaths of seven elderly people and one miscarriage, Mr Davis said.
“Listeriosis is a rare illness caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. The Listeria bacteria are common in the environment and some raw foods. Eating foods that contain Listeria bacteria does not cause illness in most people.
“However vulnerable populations, categorised as those aged over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people who are immune compromised are at an increased risk.
“Rockmelons are certainly a great healthy food option for the general population and we encourage people to maintain a varied diet including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“However rockmelons are grown in the dirt where Listeria is naturally present and rockmelons have that unique rough and latticed skin which makes it much harder to effectively wash and remove the Listeria than is the case with other fresh fruit.
“Due to the fact that rockmelons are generally a higher risk food we recommend that people who fall within the vulnerable population categories avoid consuming this fruit.
Mr Davis said following the NSW Food Authority’s key food safety tips was excellent practice for all people to help minimise food safety risks.
“The golden rules of food safety are to keep it hot, keep it cool, keep it clean and check the label,” he said.
Further food safety advice including the key food safety tips can be found at www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/foodsafetyandyou/keeping-food-safe/key-tips