After eighty cases of salmonella poisoning linked to rockmelon have been reported in Australia, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand has advised pregnant women, infants, elderly people and people with compromised immune systems to avoid the fruit.
“The link comes after a spike in Salmonella Hvittingfoss cases, a rare strain of Salmonella, across a number of states in the past weeks, with 86 cases reported nationally, 43 of them in NSW,” said a report by the Department of Primary Industries.
“Following the positive test results, confirmed by SA Health on Tuesday 2 August, the company ‘Red Dirt’ has said it will undertake a trade level recall of their product, which means it will be removed from the supply chain so consumers can be assured rockmelons currently available on shelves are not implicated in this outbreak.”
Meanwhile, talking to ABC News, Professor Phillips said, "SA Health recommends anyone with rockmelon in the house to discard it, as washing the rockmelon will not remove the salmonella, and to not consume any other rockmelon until further notice."
Authorities warn against Rockmelon: Preparation tips
According to the NSW, caution must always be present when preparing the fruit for children and the elderly. In light of the recent salmonella outbreak, here are some important reminders:
- Always purchase undamaged and unbruised rockmelon and if it is pre sliced ensure it is refrigerated promptly
- Discard sliced or peeled rockmelon that has been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours
- Wash hands thoroughly with warm soapy water before and after handling rockmelon
- Use clean chopping boards and utensils when preparing rockmelon and thoroughly wash in hot soapy water after cutting or peeling
What is salmonellosis?
“Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning caused by the Salmonella enterica bacterium,” says WebMD.
Although children are the most likely to be poisoned by salmonella, people with compromised immune systems and older adults are also likely to suffer severe infections.
There are many ways in which a food can be contaminated by salmonella, such has improper handling of food.
A frequent cause is a food handler who does not wash his or her hands with soap after using the bathroom.
Salmonella may also be present in pets’ feces. Reptiles, baby chicks and ducklings, and small rodents such as hamsters are particularly likely to carry Salmonella.
Symptoms of salmonellosis include loss of appetite, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. They develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.
Salmonellosis typically goes away on its own without treatment, but severe dehydration and diarrhea may become severe that medical care is needed.
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