As the sixth listeriosis death in Australia linked to rockmelon was reported on Tuesday, the silence from cantaloupe growers, packers, retailers and regulators has been deafening.
(A table of rockmelon-related outbreaks is available here.)
Here are some basic questions:
- was the farm prone to flooding and near any livestock operations;
- what soil amendments, like manure, were used;
- after harvest were the rockmelons placed in a dump tank;
- was the water in the dump tank regularly monitored for chlorine levels;
- did a proper handwashing program exist at the packing shed;
- were conveyor belts cleaned and tested;
- did condensation form on the ceiling of the packing shed;
- were transportation vehicles properly cooled and monitored;
- was the Listeria in whole cantaloupe or pre-cut; and,
- was the rockmelon stored at proper temperatures at retail?
I’m just spit-balling here, but these are basic questions that need to be answered before any dreams of regaining consumer confidence can be entertained.