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Melon industry rocked by sales hit

AAP logoAAP 18/08/2016 Gemma Najem

Rockmelon sales have almost halved across Australia despite the fruit having been given the all clear following a salmonella outbreak that affected 100 people across the country.

Australian melon growers are urging shoppers to put rockmelons back in their baskets after sales plummeted by about 40 per cent following the outbreak between mid-June and early August.

In NSW, at least 52 people were affected, while there were 20 cases in SA, nine each in Western Australia and Queensland, eight in Victoria and two in the ACT.

The outbreak, linked to produce from a Northern Territory farm, rocked the industry and forced growers to dump unwanted fruit.

The Australian Melon Association on Thursday assured consumers the affected rockmelons had been cleared off shelves and produce from all other Australian melon farms given the all-clear from microbial tests.

"(Farmers) re-tested their fruit and confirmed it is safe to eat. However, consumers have been reticent to start buying again, hurting growers' livelihoods," the AMA said a statement.

Some 300 melon farmers supplied more than 217,000 tonnes of fresh fruit to Australians each year, the association said.

Queensland grower Sib Rapisarda has called on the public to restore their faith in the industry.

"We're calling on rockmelon lovers to support us and get back to munching on the golden delights," he said.

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