Retailers return rockmelon to shelves

Dominica Sanda

Rockmelons are starting to reappear on some Australian supermarket shelves, nearly a month after the fruit was linked to a deadly listeria outbreak.

Woolworths stores in Queensland and Western Australia have been restocking the melon sourced from local farms, the company said Wednesday, but shoppers in other states will have to wait a little longer.

A spokeswoman said the supermarket has taken a "careful approach" with restocking the fruit and those being sold were from suppliers not affected by the recent outbreak.

Coles, however, is holding off on selling rockmelons as it continues to work with producers to meet its new increased standards.

"We will recommence supply from growers around Australia once this process is complete," a spokesman told AAP.

The Australian Melon Association has welcomed the fruit's partial comeback, which comes just in time for the melon season in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.

"Growers in these regions want to reassure consumers that they have been reviewing their processing practices to ensure that the rockmelons are safe to eat," industry development manager Dianne Fullelove said in a statement on Wednesday.

Six deaths have been linked to the listeria outbreak - three from Victoria and three from NSW - which was first revealed in February.

A total of 19 people have been infected during the outbreak - linked to a single farm in NSW - including the six mostly elderly people who subsequently died.

The most recent, a woman in her 90s, had significant underlying health problems.

Meanwhile, demand for the fruit overseas has increased with a Western Australian rockmelon exporter reporting that Japanese contacts have placed rockmelon orders.

"This is a huge vote of confidence in our industry and the efforts we are making to ensure that Australian rockmelons meet customers' expectations - both here in Australia and internationally," Ms Fullelove said.