After the death of two people in the area of NSW, 6 people fell ill, the news has been released of a sudden outbreak of Listeria in Australia urging everyone to avoid eating Rockmelons. The production of Rockmelon has been seized after its consumption led to Listeria infection in 10 elderly people yesterday. Following this, the fruit has also been removed from the shelves of supermarkets and the Australian Melon Association industry will conduct a meet to decide on how to take the situation further.
The melon association has urged people to discard any Rockmelons stored with them and stop consumption. There have been a total of 15 cases of infections till now.
Who are at risk of Listeria?
Eating food which is contaminated with Listeria infection doesn’t harm one until their immune system is compromised. In the latter case, the infection can be serious. The infection is particularly dangerous of old aged people, pregnant women, and people with health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart and kidney disease.
Cause of Listeria infection
In general, Listeria is caused by eating cut Rockmelon or Watermelon. However, there are other food products also which can lead to this. Some of these include:
- Dirty water, irrigation water, soil and fertilizer
- Cold chicken, deli meat, and pre-packaged meats
- Raw and cold seafood including smoked salmon
- Ice cream and unpasteurized milk products
- Soft cheeses such as camembert and brie
- Fresh fruit and bagged vegetables and old salad.
Symptoms of Listeria
The various symptoms of the infection include fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and sometimes diarrhea. These symptoms can last for few days and generally are visible either after a week of eating the contaminated food or a bit more. If one observes these symptoms, it is best to consult your doctor immediately.
How to avoid Listeria Infection
One must be very careful before buying fruits and vegetables and avoid purchasing the ones with cuts and scrapes. You also need to follow some basic hygiene steps: washing your hands before and after handling food; and making sure your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops are washed and clean.
The Food Authority NSW and the Food Safety Information Council list the following simple measures:
- Avoid items past their ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date
- Refrigerate food items within two hours of slicing.
- Cook foods thoroughly
- Reheat food until it is steaming hot
- Refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 24 hours, or freeze
- Ready to eat food should never be stored in the fridge for too long