AVA recalls all Australian rockmelons amid listeria fears

The authorities are recalling all rockmelons from Australia to safeguard against the deadly listeria disease breaking out here.

New information from the authorities in Australia, where at least four people have died, suggests that more contaminated melons could have found their way into Singapore, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said yesterday.

However, there has been no reported case of listeriosis linked to eating rockmelons here, AVA added.

AVA completed an earlier recall of two consignments of contaminated melons on Monday.

A total of 17 listeria cases were confirmed across eastern Australia on Wednesday, with two deaths each in the states of Victoria and New South Wales.

Listeriosis is a bacterial infection caused by listeria monocytogenes, which is found, for instance, in soil, water and the faeces of humans and animals.

A person with mild listeriosis usually has a fever and muscle aches, preceded by diarrhoea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. In severe cases, it can lead to brain and heart infections, or complications in the child if the woman is pregnant.

Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early.

The contaminated melons come from a farm in New South Wales, which has stopped production. The Australian authorities said there are no other affected farms in the country.

AVA said it has taken samples of the rockmelons sold here for food safety tests, including testing for listeria. The results are pending, it added.

AVA, in a statement yesterday, said that eateries are advised to temporarily stop selling rockmelons from Australia or using them in dishes prepared for public consumption, until further notice.

It added that retailers unsure of the source of their rockmelons should also stop the sale or use of rockmelons as a precaution.

"Consumers who have purchased rockmelons from Australia, or are unsure of the source of the rockmelons purchased, are advised not to consume them. Consumers who do not feel well after consumption of rockmelon should seek medical attention," the statement said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2018, with the headline 'AVA recalls all Australian rockmelons amid listeria fears'. Print Edition | Subscribe