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| 07 March, 2018

Australian rock melons banned in Bahrain over listeria contamination

Bahrain’s decision followed a similar action by the UAE on Monday

Image used for illustrative purpose only.
A man carries melons in Tegucigalpa March 24, 2008. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently warned grocers to remove melons shipped by a Honduran company from their stock and suggested shoppers check with stores to see where recently purchased melons came from, local media reported. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Image used for illustrative purpose only. A man carries melons in Tegucigalpa March 24, 2008. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently warned grocers to remove melons shipped by a Honduran company from their stock and suggested shoppers check with stores to see where recently purchased melons came from, local media reported. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Bahrain has temporarily banned the import of rock melons from Australia after three Australians reportedly died after consuming the fruit contaminated with listeria.

However, there has been no recall of the fruit from the market as samples are being tested, according to Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry’s Agriculture and Marine Department consultant Dr Mohammed Fouda yesterday.

Bahrain’s decision followed a similar action by the UAE on Monday. Listeria is a commonly found bacteria and it does not cause illness in most people who consume foods that contain it.

But it can be fatal in newborns, elderly people and people with a weakened immune system.

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Symptoms can include fever, headaches, cramps, aches and pains, nausea and diarrhoea.

At least 17 cases of listeriosis were reported since Australian authorities were first alerted to the outbreak last month (February).

The outbreak was traced to a farm at Nericon, near Griffith in the Riverina in New South Wales and the producer has voluntarily stopped production.

Dr Fouda told the GDN that ports have been instructed to stop all consignments of rock melons from Australia with immediate effect.

“The fruit will tested for any contamination, but will not be released into the market, and the temporary ban will be in place until the concerns are ruled out.

“If we find any contamination, we will destroy it (the consignment) immediately.

“Meanwhile, samples are being collected from the market to be tested following which we will decide whether to pull them off the market or not.

“So far we haven’t heard of any concerns of health issues from the consumers,” said Dr Fouda, urging people to refrain from consuming the fruit.

The GDN learnt that the fruit sold in almost all major supermarkets in the country is a favourite among customers.

Most of the sales personnel and market management said that they were unaware of the concern about the fruit.

“The most sold rock melons are from Australia and it is a well moving fruit among customers,” said a salesman at Al Osra supermarket in Budaiya.

“There is no information about any problem with the fruit and people are buying it as always.

“Usually in case of any such concern, we are notified by the Health Ministry officials and we take the item off the shelves.”

“Only one customer asked us if there were any issues with Australian rock melons and that is when we learnt from the media about the contamination,” said a representative from Al Jazira major supermarket chain.

“The fruit definitely is among the best sellers along with oranges, apples and strawberries.

“We have not been informed of any ban.”

raji@gdn.com.bh

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