Melon sales in Australia have reportedly plummeted following a deadly listeria outbreak in the country, despite industry claims that the fruit is now safe to eat.
Local media ABC News reported demand has fallen by 90% since the four deaths linked to infected cantaloupes (known locally as rockmelons) from a farm in the Riverina in New South Wales.
Authorities in the territory have refused to name the grower, but the industry is calling for them to be identified and explain what caused the outbreak, the article reported.
“I know that growers would like the NSW Food Authority to name that grower … to date that’s not happened … and we desperately want to get that report,” Australian Melon Association’s industry development manager, Diane Fullelove, was quoted as saying.
She said the outbreak occurred on just one property and wants the grower named in order to protect the reputation of the others.
“We have a strong reputation for all our fruit and vegetables as clean and green and we don’t want one farm to jeopardize that,” she was quoted as saying.
The disease outbreak led to the closure of export markets in Indonesia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, although the latter has reportedly just re-opened access.