7 dead, 1 miscarriage: New control measures to be set up on Australian rockmelon farms

My thoughts go to Australian rockmelon growers because they’ve been sold down the stream.

In April, thousands of rockmelons were left to rot in paddocks near Geraldton on the Western Australian coast, record low prices and lost markets meant they were simply not worth picking.

Grower Carol Metcalf said the rows of rotting melons were the result of the listeria outbreak on a rockmelon farm more than 3,500 kilometres away in New South Wales.

Under a new plan released this week, all rockmelon farms in Australia will be inspected and work will be undertaken on each individual farm to ensure that the highest standards are implemented and maintained.

At the time of the outbreak on February this year, the NSW Food Authority speculated that the most likely cause of the listeria outbreak was contaminated soil possibly not being properly washed off the skin of the fruit.

In addition it was thought that a weather event may have increased the listeria bacteria on the product.

But the formal investigation into the cause of the outbreak has not been completed by the NSW Food Authority and therefore the official report on the cause has still not been released.

What is planned is visits to all Australian rockmelon growers and packing sheds to review and audit current practice and critical control points and provide one-on-one food safety consultations with growers, managers and key farm staff.

The development of a melon food safety Best-Practice Guide, was informed by the findings from consultations, feedback from retailers and other key stakeholder groups.

The development of a ‘toolbox’ for grower use including risk assessment templates, training guides, food safety posters and record sheets to support food safety programs — this will be housed on the Australian Melon Association website.

Regional roadshows in key growing regions will highlight the availability and contents of the toolbox and Best Practice Guide.

A helpdesk to provide technical support to growers, packers and other stakeholders will also be developed.

Australian Melon Association industry development manager Dianne Fullelove said the new initiatives would ensure that every rockmelon grower in Australia had the highest level of food safety possible.

“NSW DPI will lead the project and the key is that they will visit every farm and work with every grower to fix any problems or issues.

“We want to make food safety as good as it can be,” Ms Fullelove said.

“This new initiative will make that reputation even stronger and give our growers sure-fire tools to support our product integrity for decades to come.

“This move will put us ahead of the game.”

Food safety isn’t a game, not when your product contributes to the death of seven people and one miscarriage.

Why are melon growers relying on government to visit farms (oh, right, money).

They should hire their own people to be out front on any food safety issue; government is the last source to rely on. And don’t act like this is something new: There have been plenty of outbreaks of Listeria and Salmonella on rockmelon over the years.

(A table of rockmelon-related outbreaks is available here.)

Some basic questions that have yet to be answered:

  • 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?

Stop waiting for change to happen and take charge, without relying on government: Your growers are still losing money.

60 sick: Multistate outbreak of Salmonella Adelaide infections linked to pre-cut melon

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports on June 8, 2018, Caito Foods, LLC recalled fresh cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and fresh-cut fruit medley products containing one of these melons produced at the Caito Foods facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Recalled products were distributed to Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio.

Recalled products were sold in clear, plastic clamshell containers at Costco, Jay C, Kroger, Payless, Owen’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart, and Whole Foods/Amazon.

The investigation is ongoing to determine if products went to additional stores or states.

Do not eat recalled products. Check your fridge and freezer for them and throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a refund.

If you don’t remember where you bought pre-cut melon, don’t eat it and throw it away.

Retailers should not sell or serve recalled pre-cut melon products distributed by Caito Foods Distribution, Gordon Food Service, and SpartanNash Distribution.

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Adelaide infections in five Midwestern states.

60 people infected with the outbreak strain have been reported.

31 people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and preliminary traceback evidence indicates that pre-cut melon supplied by Caito Foods, LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana is a likely source of this multistate outbreak.

Most of the ill people reported eating pre-cut cantaloupe, watermelon, or a fruit salad mix with melon purchased from grocery stores.

Information collected from stores where ill people shopped indicates that Caito Foods, LLC supplied pre-cut melon to these stores.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from April 30, 2018, to May 28, 2018. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 97, with a median age of 67. Sixty-five percent are female. Out of 47 people with information available, 31 (66%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses that occurred after May 20, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks.

CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

A table of cantaloupe/rockmelon outbreaks is available at  https://www.barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Cantaloupe-Related-Outbreaks-3-8-18.xlsx.

Everything is fine, go back to sleep: Rockmelon grower says it wasn’t him, 6 dead from Listeria

I was wrong.

Australia isn’t 20 years behind the U.S. on foodborne illness issues.

It’s 40 years behind, when the Bee Gees hit the charts with Saturday Night Fever

(Well you can tell by the way I use my walk,

(I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk.)

The New South Wales farm at the centre of the rockmelon Listeria outbreak that claimed six lives has said it will resume supplying fruit to the public again this week.

Melinda Hayter and David Claughton of ABC report a statement by the Rombola Family Farms confirmed the state’s Food Authority has given them approval to resume production, packing and the sale of rockmelons.

The farm, which is based at Nericon near Griffith, has met all the requirements of the authority’s clearance program.

While a link between the contamination and the rockmelons was established, the farm’s statement said neither the authority nor an independent microbiologist were able to identify any specific source associated with Rombola or with the farm’s rockmelon washing, storage or packing facilities.

This was disputed by the State Government, with the NSW compliance and biosecurity director Peter Day saying that was “wrong”.

“There was very much direct linkages and direct proof that their rockmelons were responsible for the outbreak,” Mr Day said.

“We got positive testing in 20 rockmelons taken from different shops from Rombola [and] across the state, five whole rockmelons from different boxes from that farm, a boot swab from the packing area at the farm itself.”

The Australian melon industry also voiced concerns about farm receiving the all-clear.

In a statement, the Australian Melon Association (AMA) said the cause of the outbreak had not been “traced or adequality addressed.”

The association’s industry development manager, Dianne Fullelove, said growers were anxious to understand what went wrong, adding that they had not received a report on the outcomes of the Food Authority’s investigation.

“We are asking the growers supplying rockmelon now to brand or identify their rockmelons so that consumers will know the origin of the fruit,” Mrs Fullelove said.

 The AMA said the melon industry was working to develop an accreditation scheme for rockmelon growers in collaboration with state health authorities.

Intel, Chipotle and Facebook: The sorry history of full-page apologies

In the summer of 1994, Intel types discovered a flaw with their Pentium computer chip, but thought the matter trivial; it was not publicly disclosed until Oct. 30, 1994, when a mathematician at Lynchburg College in Virginia, Thomas Nicely, posted a warning on the Internet.

As perceived problems and complaints rose through the weekend Andrew S. Grove, Intel’s chairman and CEO, composed an apology to be posted on an Internet bulletin board—actually a web, but because he was at home with no direct Internet access, he asked Intel scientist Richard Wirt to post the message from his home account; But because it bore Mr. Wirt’s electronic address, the note’s authenticity was challenged, which only added to the fury of the Internet attacks on Intel.

(I remember those days, and did live-post to my friends that had e-mail my 4th daughter’s 1995 home birth on a shitty Mac SE with a 20MB external hard drive for extra power.)

At 8 a.m. the following Monday inside the company’s Santa Clara, Calif. headquarters, Intel officials set to work on the crisis the way they attacked a large problems—like an engineering problem. Said Paul Otellini, senior vice-president for worldwide sales, “It was a classic Intellian approach to solving any big problem. We broke it down into smaller parts; that was comforting.”

By the end of week two, the crisis looked to be subsiding; Then on Monday, Nov. 12, 1994, the International Business Machines Corp. abruptly announced that its own researchers had determined that the Pentium flaw would lead to division errors much more frequently than Intel said. IBM said it was suspending shipments of personal computers containing the Pentium chip

Mr. Grove was stunned. The head of IBM’s PC division, Richard Thoman, had given no advance warning. A fax (remember those? Still required for certain transactions in Australia) from Thoman arrived at Intel’s HQ on Monday morning after the IBM announcement, saying he had been unable to find Grove’s number during the weekend. Mr. Grove, whose number is listed, called directory assistance twice to ask for his own number to ensure he was listed.

After the IBM announcement, the number of calls to Santa Clara overwhelmed the capacity of AT&T’s West Coast long-distance telephone switching centers, blocking calls. Intel stock fell 6.5 per cent.

As John Markoff of the N.Y. Times wrote on the front-page in Dec. 1994, the reluctance of Intel to act earlier, according to Wall Street analysts, was the result of a corporate culture accustomed to handling technical issues rather than addressing customers’ hopes and fears.

Only then, Mr. Grove said, did he begin to realize that an engineer’s approach was inappropriate for a consumer problem.

According to one op-ed writer, Intel’s initial approach to the problem—prove you are doing sophisticated calculations if you want a replacement chip—was like saying “until you get to be cardinal, any internal doubts about the meaning of life are your own problem, a debate that has been going on since before Martin Luther.”

Intel’s doctrine of infallibility was facing an old-fashioned Protestant revolt.” (John Hockenberry, Pentium and our Crisis of Faith, N.Y. Times, Dec. 28, 1994, A11; this is how things were referenced before hot links)

Why and how did Intel go wrong? The answer was rooted in Intel’s distinctive corporate culture, and suggests that Intel went wrong in much the same way as other big and unresponsive companies before it.

Intel had traditionally valued engineering over product marketing. Inward-looking and wary of competitors (from experience with the Japanese) it developed a bunker mentality, a go-for-the-juglar attitude and reputation for arrogance.

According to one former engineer, Federico Faggin, a co-inventor of Intel’s first microprocessor, “The attitude at Intel is, ‘We’re better than everyone else and what we do is right and we never make mistakes.’”

Finally, on Dec. 20, Grove apparently realized that he and his company were standing at Ground Zero for an incoming consumer relations meteor. Intel announced that it would replace the defective chips—and pay for the labor—no questions asked, for the life of the original PC.

Discussing Intel’s previous position, Grove said, “To some people, this seemed arrogant and uncaring. We apologize for that.”

So what did a consumer with a Pentium do: Teach Intel that this isn’t about a white paper. It’s about green paper—the money you paid and the performance you didn’t get. Replace that chip. After all, consumers deserve to be treated with respect, courtesy and a little common sense.

Now apply all of that Intel stuff to Chipotle.

They even took out a full-page ad to apologize, just like Intel, but people still read newspapers 20 years ago. Today, the strategy seems hopelessly out of touch for a tragically hipster company.

Chipotle is the opposite, focusing too much on consumer whims and not enough on food science, and now it’s going to get worse.

An official chronology of the Simi Valley Norovirus outbreak involving Chipotle Mexican Grill customers and employees, which has been obtained by Food Safety News, shows there were far more victims than were reported at the time.

The report shows the Simi Valley outbreak was larger than any of the other four outbreaks Chipotle has suffered since July, including the ongoing Norovirus outbreak mostly involving Boston College students, the two E. coli outbreaks and the Salmonella Newport outbreak in Minnesota in August. Together these events have sickened more than 490 people.

The County’s chronology includes detailed tracking of the complaints as they came in and as the illnesses were confirmed as Norovirus victims. From that first report through Sept. 25, 2015, the chronology comes to this conclusion: ”The total number of reportedly ill customers and employees at this Chipotle outbreak investigation is 234.”

The number of victims was being reported in other media at the time as just 98.

And, the internal document says the real number of victims of Chipotle’s Simi Valley outbreak could be higher still. “In reviewing the food logs provided by Chipotle for both 8/18/15 and 8/19/15, it is estimated at least 1500+ entrees were sold each day.”  Sandy Murray, who did the analysis for the division, wrote: “Thus, the actual number of customers and employees ill from this outbreak is likely to be substantially higher than the reported number of 234.”

In 2015, Chipotle ran print advertisements in 60 newspaper markets with an apology from Steve Ells, the burrito chain’s founder and co-chief executive.   His apology though only went to the victims of the current nine state E. coli 026 outbreak and the Boston College outbreak.

“From the beginning, all of our food safety programs have met or exceeded industry standards,“ Ells said (Pinto defense). “But recent incidents, an E. coli outbreak that sickened 52 people and a Norovirus outbreak that sickened approximately 140 people at a single Chipotle restaurant in Boston, have shown us that we need to do better, much better.”

No mention was made of the other foodborne outbreaks.

Now it’s Facebook’s turn: The full-page apology adverts in newspapers in the U.S., UK and Germany ran on Sunday (Mar. 25, 2018).

But, the polls say consumers are turning away from facebook, not by immediately terminating their accounts, but by slowly disengaging.

Fewer than half of Americans trust Facebook to obey U.S. privacy laws, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday, while a survey published by Bild am Sonntag, Germany’s largest-selling Sunday paper, found 60 percent of Germans fear that Facebook and other social networks are having a negative impact on democracy.

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg apologized for “a breach of trust” in advertisements placed in papers including the Observer in Britain and the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.

“We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it,” said the advertisement, which appeared in plain text on a white background with a tiny Facebook logo.

The newspapers are happy for the revenue, but if only Facebook had a way to reach out to its 2 billion or so customers rather than newspapers.

Australian rockmelon growers could learn a thing or two. I can’t keep giving out this free advice forever, but the public citizen in me and my values compel me to do so.

Rebels without a clue.

Just trust us: How not to build consumer confidence in rockmelons

Maybe rockmelon growers and Woolworth’s think Australian consumers are just too daft to understand things like Listeria and rockmelon.

Listeria (and Salmonella) in cantaloupe has happened before.

(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.

Good on Coles.

Rockmelons are, according to Dominica Sanda of AAP, starting to reappear on some Australian supermarket shelves, nearly a month after the fruit was linked to a deadly listeria outbreak.

Woolworths stores in Queensland and Western Australia have been restocking the melon sourced from local farms, the company said Wednesday, but shoppers in other states will have to wait a little longer.

A spokeswoman said the supermarket has taken a “careful approach” with restocking the fruit and those being sold were from suppliers not affected by the recent outbreak.

Coles, however, is holding off on selling rockmelons as it continues to work with producers to meet its new increased standards.

“We will recommence supply from growers around Australia once this process is complete,” a spokesman told AAP.

The Australian Melon Association has welcomed the fruit’s partial comeback, which comes just in time for the melon season in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.

“Growers in these regions want to reassure consumers that they have been reviewing their processing practices to ensure that the rockmelons are safe to eat,” industry development manager Dianne Fullelove said in a statement on Wednesday. “This is a huge vote of confidence in our industry and the efforts we are making to ensure that Australian rockmelons meet customers’ expectations – both here in Australia and internationally.”

6 dead, 13 sick: Where’s the details on Listeria-in-rockmelon?

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.

Listeria in cantaloupe has happened before.

(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.

Only as good as your worst supplier: Rockmelon growers in Australia suffering through outbreak (so are the sick and the families of the 4 dead)

I was wrong.

When I said Australia is about 20 years behind North America in micro food safety terms, I really meant 40, because that’s when the Brisbane-raised Bee Gees were on the charts with Saturday Night Fever.

When it comes to public disclosure and on-farm food safety of fresh produce, Australia is only 20 years behind North America.

It was 1998 when I and many in my lab started working on this problem.

What I soon realized is that government doesn’t give a shit. As sales of an implicated commodity collapse because of a real or imagined outbreak of foodborne illness, the bureaucrats keep their jobs.

Farms go bankrupt.

With 4 dead and 17 sick from Listeria in rockmelon (cantaloupe), this notion has occurred to at least one Western Australian melon grower who is rightly pissed about the lack of information from government, growers, and anyone else.

Dane Capogreco, one of the directors of Capogreco Farms in Western Australia says the incident is an isolated case of “negligence” and the whole of the country’s melon industry should not be judged by the actions of one grower.

“The vast majority of growers are doing the right thing. One grower has done the wrong thing and the rest of us are paying the price.”

“It’s very concerning that the grower responsible (from the New South Wales Riverina region) hasn’t come forward to take action,” Mr Capogreco said. “He knew that he had it, and has destroyed the industry. I don’t believe it’s spreadable but it probably happened through the way he handled or washed the fruit post-harvest”

“It (previously) was very good – Australia had a good name. We have a clean, green product. We can’t compete on price alone, but we sell on trust because of our name. Now one guy has set us back a long way.”

He added that his company’s test results are on their website.

That’s a good claim, and something I’ve endorsed for 20 years, but a visit to the website found no such data available, just an eternal circle click.

Something about throwing stones from glass houses.

And again, the Colorado farm in the 2011 Listeria in cantaloupe that killed 33 and sickened at least 140 people in 26 states received a score of 96% in a third-party audit completed by Primus Labs only six days prior to the first reported illness.

Growers, take microbial food safety into your own hands (literally) and be able to prove your product is safe.

Retailers, market microbial food safety at retail.

Then consumers can choose.

(Me and the ex saw the Dead perform these two songs, pretty much exactly as shown, north of Toronto in 1987 with a six-week old kid, who will turn 31 later this year. I still get goosebumps from their rendition of Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away)

4 dead, 13 sick from Listeria-in-cantaloupes: The public conversation is lame

I’ve always believed in don’t complain, create.

When I didn’t like the university newspaper I was editor of, I created my own (along with others).

When I didn’t like my higher education, I created my own path to a PhD.

I created my own professoring job (with lots of help from others) and have sorta done my own thing.

So while I’m somewhat beaten with the broken ribs, I still have some spirit.

With Listeria-in-cantaloupe spreading across Australia, I got excited and wrote an op-ed on Monday before lunch.

Amy edited, just like the old days, and I sent it off to the Sydney Morning Herald.

They said they were interested and then … nothing.

Today, with news of a fourth death and more illnesses, I asked again if they were interested.

Nothing.

That’s cool, I have a nostalgia for print and the smell of ink, and I have no doubt why print is vanishing.

That’s one reason why we made our own publishing outlet, barfblog.com, in 2005 because, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one” (A. J. Liebling).

Here’s the op-ed. And yes, PR flunkies should be paying me for this advice.

On Sept. 9, 2011, reports first surfaced of an outbreak of Listeria linked to cantaloupe – known as rock melons in Australia — grown in Colorado. Already two were dead and seven others sick.

By the end of the outbreak, 33 people were killed and at least 140 sickened.

On Aug. 17, 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced an outbreak of Salmonella linked to cantaloupe that ultimately killed three people and sickened 270 in 26 states.

In Australia, a fourth death has now been linked to the Listeria-in-rockmelon outbreak, and the number of sick people has risen to 13.

Already, an Australian rockmelon grower is saying “misinformation” about the listeria outbreak will have a negative impact on growers.

Rather than misinformation, there is a lack of information required to regain consumer confidence and trust.

Sadly, the number of dead and sick will probably grow, because Listeria has an incubation period of up to six weeks. The melon you ate five weeks ago could make you sick with listeriosis tomorrow.

This is not misinformation, it’s biology.

Australian media reports that the Listeria contamination is on the rockmelon surface but I have yet to see any verification of that statement. Under a microscope the exterior of a rockmelon looks like a lunar surface of hills and craters, a soft porous skin which microbes can easily cross.

Regardless of how careful a consumer is while cutting rockmelon, bacteria like Listeria, on the outside or inside, are going to be in the final product.

This means everything has to be done to reduce the risk of contamination beginning on the farm.

On a trip to the local Woolies this morning, I found no rockmelon, however some was available in fresh-cut mixed fruit packages. Shouldn’t those also have been pulled? I asked a stocker where the rockmelons were and he said there were none because of the recall. There was no information posted in the shelf-space that previously held rockmelon.

Us mere mortals, those who like rockmelon, have no information on the size of the farm involved in the outbreak, how often water was tested for dangerous bugs, what kind of soil amendments like manure may have been used, whether the melons went into a dump tank of water after harvest to clean them up, whether that water contained chlorine or some other anti-microbial and how often that water was tested, whether there was a rigorous employee handwashing program, whether the crates the melons were packed in were clean, whether melons were  transported at a cool temperature (won’t help with Listeria, it grows at 4 C), and so on.

These are the basic elements of any on-farm food safety program, which my laboratory started developing over 20 years ago for fresh produce in Canada.

These are the questions that need to be answered by any supplier of rockmelon before I would buy again.

The 2011 and 2012 U.S. outbreaks were the result of familiar factors to food safety types: seemingly minor issues synergistically combined to create ideal conditions for Listeria or Salmonella to contaminate, grow and spread on the cantaloupe. There was no overriding factor, and there is no magic solution, other than constant awareness and diligence to the microorganisms that surround us.

Eric Jensen, the fourth-generation produce grower at the centre of the 2011 Listeria-in-cantaloupe outbreak told a reporter once the outbreak was “something Mother Nature did. We didn’t have anything to do with it.”

I’ve yet to see divine intervention as a cause of foodborne illness. Instead, illnesses and outbreaks are frighteningly consistent in their underlying causes: a culmination of a small series of mistakes that, over time, results in illness and death. After-the-fact investigations usually conclude, why didn’t this happen earlier, with all the mistakes going on?

So while retailers ask themselves, why did we rely on such lousy food safety assurances, it would bolster consumer confidence if there was any public indication that Australian rockmelon growers had learned anything from past outbreaks, at home and abroad.

(A table of rockmelon-related outbreaks is availabe at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Cantaloupe-Related-Outbreaks-8-12.xlsx. In Oct. 2006, 36 Australians were sickened with Salmonella in rockmelon).

Tying a brand or commodity – rockmelon, lettuce, tomatoes, meat —  to the lowest common denominator of government inspections is a recipe for failure. The Pinto automobile also met government standards but that didn’t help much in the court of public opinion.

The best growers, processors and retailers will far exceed minimal government standards, will proactively test to verify their food safety systems are working, will transparently publicize those results and will brag about their excellent food safety by marketing at retail so consumers can actually choose safe food.

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety at Kansas State University who publishes the food safety blog, barfblog.com from his home in Brisbane.

0478222221

dpowell29@gmail.com

 

Listeria in rockmelon: ‘Misinformation’ is language of deniers

On Sept. 9, 2011, reports first surfaced of an outbreak of Listeria linked to cantaloupe – known as rock melons in Australia — grown in Colorado. Already two were dead and seven others sick.

By the end of the outbreak, 33 people were killed and at least 140 sickened.

On Aug. 17, 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced an outbreak of Salmonella linked to cantaloupe that ultimately killed three people and sickened 270 in 26 states.

In Australia, a third death has now been linked to the Listeria-in-rockmelon outbreak, and the number of sick people has risen to 12.

Already, an Australian rockmelon grower is saying “misinformation” about the listeria outbreak will have a negative impact on growers.

The only misinformation – or fake news – is the lack of information to regain consumer confidence and trust.

Sadly, the number of dead and sick will probably grow, because Listeria has an incubation period of up to six weeks. The melon you ate five weeks ago could make you sick with listeriosis tomorrow.

This is not misinformation, it’s biology.

A table (that needs to be updated) of cantaloupe-or-rockmelon-related outbreaks is available here.