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CONTAMINATED ROCKMELONS: Panic Merchants Aren't Helping Anyone


According to The Guardian ”Australians have been told to throw out any melons bought before Wednesday after the outbreak was linked to a rockmelon grower in Nericon, near Griffith”.   news.com.au has called it a “NATIONAL ROCKMELON OUTBREAK”.

The message being sent out by mainstream media is: ALL rockmelons currently for sale are contaminated with listera and are going to kill you.  This just not true and will absolutely damage the rockmelon & fruit industry in general, because of sensational articles that cause public panic.

Photo by Chris Ralston on Unsplash

Quite simply, a fruit processor has handled and / or stored rockmelons the wrong way which has caused some of their rockmelons to become contaminated.  This is NOT a rockmelon issue.


If we look at the current recall of vehicle AIRBAGS:

A specific batch of air bags, from a specific manufacturer are being recalled and are being replaced in affected vehicles.

This is not a car issue, this is not an airbag issues, this is not even a specific brand of airbag issue, this is an issue for a specific batch of air bags from a specific manufacturer.

If the rockmelon listeria logic was applied to the airbag recall, then all Australians who own cars with airbags would be asked to dump their cars and no longer drive them.

Thanks to: www.freeimages.com


My family own vehicles that were noted as possibly containing suspect airbags, we checked and found that they do not …………. End of story.

The same as we have purchased our rockmelons from a local fruit shop that does not source their produce from the suspect area, therefore, there is not a listeria issue with the 2 rockmelons we have consumed this week ……… Getting on with life.



Traceability is well practiced in the automotive industry and also, to a certain extent, the fresh produce industry.

Each airbag has a serial number that can be traced from a vehicle to a batch made by a manufacturer.

Fresh produce leaves farms / packing sheds in labelled cartons or bulk bins so they can be traced back to a specific farm.


This knee jerkone size fits all”, “all rockmelons are contaminated by listeria” reaction will only hurt the fresh produce and in particular, the rockmelon industry.

In 1999, Nippy’s produced orange juice contaminated with salmonella.  There was a national recall of Nippy’s Orange juice.  Nippy’s were found later not to be at fault, however, they did not have control over their suppliers.  There was no NATIONAL ORANGE JUICE OUTBREAK and this was not the fault of orange producers in Australia.  Yes, the recall hurt Nippy’s, but not the whole industry.


We are being advised by media outlets to dump rockmelons as they MAY be contaminated by listeria.  Every day, many people die in car accidents, will we get rid of cars???  NO!  Even though this will eliminate motor vehicle related deaths and get the road toll to zero, it will never happen as it is not a viable option.



A number of years ago I had a client who was threatened by a consumer that they were going to the Health Department because they found glass in their product.

I was asked to investigate the issue on behalf of the client, who was understandably exceptionally worried as they could lose their business and were willing to do “whatever is needed” to make the consumer happy.


Long story short, the consumer would not return the glass to the client and I found out that they worked in a windscreen repair shop.  I informed the consumer that if we did not have the glass, then we could not do an investigation.  If we did have the glass and it was found to be windscreen glass, then, they were making a false claim that would be followed by the company lawyers.  The result was me being sworn at over the phone by the consumer and saying they did not want to go ahead with the claim.


The moral is to investigate each issue / complaint based on the facts only, not emotion or looking for the outcome you WANT to see.  You will then get a real picture of the issue, be able to control the issue and reduce the chance of it from reoccurring.



All issues / problems need to the investigated and addressed based on the merits of each specific issue.  The “one size fits NONE” approach needs to be taken.  Following a set method of problem resolution / Non conformance / Continual Improvement / Customer Complaint, will result in a calculated approach with maximum relief of the issue and minimal over all disruption to our lives and negative impact on industry:


Try this simple 6 step approach:

1 – Establish the actual details of the issue – most issues finish here, when the details are clearly laid out, the decision can then be made whether or not to proceed.  REMEMBER: don’t use a cannon to kill an ant.  In other words: there no need for a $ 2 000 investigation to solve a $20 problem.

2 – Find a short-term solution to immediately fix the issue (if possible) and carry on with business

3 – Determine the cause of the issue (Root Cause Analysis) – investigate why & how of every aspect.  Do this with NO emotion and without an expected outcome that could falsely lead the investigation

4 – Find out where all affected product is & remove affected product from sale / use

5 – Implement procedures to prevent the issue from re-occurring

6 – Follow up the preventative activities to ensure they are effective in reducing the chance of the problem from reoccurring.


Remember, it's QA …. NOT Rocket Science


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