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New South Wales
Rockmelon listeria: Rombola Family Farms named as source of outbreak
The NSW Food Authority said it was working closely with owners of the farm, located in the NSW Riverina agricultural region, to determine the exact cause of the outbreak. Four people have died and there have been 17 confirmed cases of listeriosis nationally, linked to the contaminated rockmelons.
The rockmelon industry had been calling for the farm behind the outbreak to be named, to protect the reputation of other growers and convince consumers that it was safe to eat the fruit.
Rombola Family Farms is located in Nericon, near Griffith, in south-western NSW. The company's website states the claim it is one of Australia's biggest melon growers.
Food safety experts say it may take years for consumers to regain confidence in the rockmelon industry after the listeria outbreak. Food Produce Centre head of food safety Richard Bennett said it took months for demand for rockmelons to increase after an outbreak of salmonella two years ago. With the 4 deaths and 17 people sick, he thinks it will take a lot longer this time.
Abc.net.au reported how consumers at a farmers market in Bunbury, Western Australia this week were clearly worried about the threat of listeria, despite that state being unaffected by the outbreak.
One said the outbreak had put them off buying rockmelons at the moment, while another said they had not bought rockmelons since the outbreak, despite loving the fruit. Demand for rockmelons has plummeted by 90 per cent across the country.
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