Malaysia bans rockmelons from Australia amid listeria fears

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has temporarily stopped the import of all rockmelons from Australia after reports of a listeria outbreak which has caused the deaths of four people in two Australian states. 

Agriculture and Agro-based Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said on Friday (Mar 9) that the move was a safety measure to prevent an outbreak from happening in the country, reported the New Straits Times (NST). 

“The import of rockmelons from Australia will be banned until the situation becomes better,” Mr Ahmad told reporters after an event in Cyberjaya, advising Malaysians to be extra careful. 

Mr Ahmad also pointed out that Malaysia has a lot of locally-produced rockmelons which are safe for consumption.

Earlier this week, the Health Ministry said that rockmelons imported from Australia after Mar 1 were safe for consumption and not contaminated with listeria, according to NST. 

The ministry added that its food safety and quality division was working with the Australian High Commissioner Office.

On Thursday, Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) recalled all rockmelons from Australia as a “precautionary measure”.

This was after the authority received new information from Australian authorities which indicated that more listeria-affected consignments had been exported to Singapore. 

AVA earlier issued a recall of rockmelons from two affected consignments, which were sold in Singapore between Feb 12 and Mar 2. 

Australian authorities had said that the listeria outbreak originated from a specific grower in New South Wales.