Australian rockmelons from listeria-linked source recalled

Two consignments of rockmelons from a farm in Australia linked to a deadly listeria outbreak were imported and available for sale in Singapore from Feb 12 to March 2.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a statement yesterday that they had been sold in Sheng Siong supermarket outlets and wet markets.

A recall by the Australian health authorities has been completed, after the AVA worked with importers to remove the remaining unsold melons.

There has been no further import of rockmelons from the affected grower, and import has been suspended, the AVA said, adding that all rockmelons currently available for sale are not implicated in the recall.

In Australia, three elderly people have died and at least 12 others have fallen ill after eating rockmelons tainted with listeria bacteria.

The contaminated melons came from a farm in the eastern state of New South Wales, which has since stopped production.

The AVA is following up with the Australian authorities for updates, and has taken samples of locally sold rockmelons from other sources for food safety tests, it said.

Supermarkets, including Sheng Siong, had earlier told The Straits Times they do not carry rockmelons from New South Wales, with some taking extra precautionary measures.

Sheng Siong said it removed all Australian rockmelons from its shelves on Friday "as a matter of safety and precaution", and replaced them with a new batch sourced from Western Australia.

Consumers who suspect that they have purchased the implicated rockmelons within the affected time period are advised not to consume them, and to seek medical attention if they feel unwell, the AVA said.

Listeria bacteria are found in the environment, and can contaminate food items such as raw or ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce. While eating food containing listeria bacteria does not cause illness in most people, it can lead to sickness and death in those with weaker immunity, such as the elderly and newborn, as well as pregnant women.


Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle ache and diarrhoea. In severe cases, it can lead to brain and heart infections or complications in the foetus or newborn of infected mothers.

The incubation period of listeria ranges from three to 70 days and it is treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early.

Consumers should seek medical attention as early as possible if symptoms appear within 70 days after consuming Australian rockmelon, the AVA said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2018, with the headline 'Australian rockmelons from listeria-linked source recalled'. Print Edition | Subscribe