A Western Australian melon grower is reassuring the world that the fruit is still safe to eat, following an outbreak of Listeria that has claimed four lives. 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," Sales and Marketing Director, Dane Capogreco said. "One grower has done the wrong thing and the rest of us are paying the price."

On Wednesday, authorities confirmed a fourth person had died from the Listeria outbreak, following test results. The bacteria has been linked to Rockmelon consumed earlier this year, with the total number of people affected at 17. The grower from the New South Wales Riverina region has ceased production.

"It's very concerning that the grower responsible 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."

Mr Capogreco says that interest in the Australian fruit was high before the outbreak became public, with sales grinding to a halt, and rockmelons being pulled from the shelves.

"It (previously) was very good - Australia had a good name," he said. "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. He hopes that the industry can help spread the word to continue supporting and buying Australian melons.

"I just want to reassure the world that it was one grower that has done the wrong thing," Mr Capogreco said. “We just need to get out there and promote it.”

For more information:
Dane Capogreco
Capogreco Farms
Phone: +61 8 9733 2878