The poor, humble rockmelon. As the generally accepted, least favourite option in a fruit salad, it’s already got a bad reputation and an uphill battle ahead when trying to convince people to buy it instead of refreshing watermelon or juicy strawberries.
My brother won’t even go near fruit that has rested against a rockmelon, such is his hate for this pale orange melon.
But now the humble rocky has a bigger problem on its hands.
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Ever since the widespread salmonella scare that saw dozens of people fall ill after eating rockmelon earlier this month, sales in this fleshy fruit have absolutely plummeted.
I’m such a city dweller that I didn’t even know it was possible to get salmonella poisoning from fruit. I thought it was a ‘rancid meat only’ kind of situation…
Evidentially, I was wrong. And now, despite continued reassurances that rockmelons are completely fine to eat – as the original controversy, restricted to just one isolated farm in the Northern Territory, has been contained – people are shying away from buying them.
Unfortunately, this is placing a lot of pressure on Aussie farmers all across the country.
Following the breakout, which was said to have left around 100 people Australia-wide (9 of them in Queensland) struggling with salmonella poisoning, prices per tray of rockmelon have halved to between $12 – $18.
We all know the old saying about a bad apple spoiling the whole bunch, but in this case the saying is not one to be taken too literally!
This outbreak in salmonella was contained to only a small number of specific strands of rockmelon. While it has resulted in officials demanding greater transparency of data, to help them validate the quality of rockmelons from various areas, farmers have a much more urgent focus: urging consumers to ‘eat-up’.
In an attempt to re-invigorate the public’s interest in this age-old fruit, many farmers and harvesters are openly inviting people to ‘try before they buy’, so to speak. Alongside this, countless tests have been conducted (at great expense to the farmer) to help them prove their rockmelons’ quality and safety.
So next time you’re grocery shopping, and consider adding a wedge of rockmelon to your trolley. Your stomach may not thank you for it, but your local farmers will!