Australia – Rockmelon listeria investigation finds outbreak that killed seven largely caused by dust storms – Listeria monocytogenes

ABC Net catalopue

An investigation into a series of deaths linked to listeria on rockmelons has concluded the contaminated fruit came from a single farm in New South Wales, and the outbreak was largely caused by the weather.

Between January 16 and April 10, 22 cases of listeriosis occurred across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, which led to seven deaths and a miscarriage.

Key points:

  • The investigation found the farm that was the source of the outbreak had hygiene and sanitary procedures on par with or better than most rockmelon-growing operations
  • Dust storms that covered the farm’s paddocks significantly increased the amount of listeria on the fruit
  • There were other peripheral issues found in the packing facility that were not considered to be major underlying causes

A report released on Thursday by the NSW Department of Primary Industries confirmed those cases were all linked to consumption of rockmelon packed at Rombola Family Farms in Nericon, NSW.

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