Healthy Australians are being urged to buy rockmelons as the industry grapples with the aftermath of a fatal listeria outbreak linked to a rockmelon grower in the NSW Riverina.
Two elderly Victorians and two elderly people from NSW have died from the outbreak, which has infected 17 elderly people across the country and lead to a huge reduction in rockmelon sales at the end of its summer season.
"We'd like people to buy them (rockmelons) ... everyone who is a healthy adult and is not pregnant or immunocompromised can eat them," Australian Melon Association industry development manager Dianne Fullelove told AAP on Monday.
The contamination was linked to a grower at Nericon near Griffith with the grower voluntarily ceasing production on February 23.
A recall was issued by the business on February 28 for rockmelons on supermarket shelves between February 9-23.
All affected fruit has since been removed from the supply chain domestically and in the export market.
But, the impact on other melon businesses across Australia has been severe with sales dropping by more than 90 per cent, Ms Fullelove said.
"A lot of fruit is unpicked in fields and will have to be dumped as there is no market for it," she said.
"This incident has caused a severe impact on our export markets with a number of countries raising concerns."
As a result of the outbreak, the industry is reminding consumers of the safe ways to eat fruit.
Cut fruit should be refrigerated and should not be left outside for more than two hours.
Whole fruit should be washed on the outside, cut on a clean cutting board and the skin should be cut from the outside from the top to the bottom rather than through the middle.
"Those few small things can make a big difference," Ms Fullelove said.
To prevent another outbreak, the industry will implement a program to work with melon growers to ensure all food safety standards are met and exceeded.
It will include individual support for all rockmelon growers to manage food safety programs and training days to deliver the most up-to-date research knowledge.
Listeria is a type of bacterium that infects humans and other warm-blooded animals through contaminated food.
Health experts say listeria is everywhere in the environment and can be found in dirty water, irrigation water, soil and fertiliser.
Soft cheeses such as Camembert; cold chicken and deli meats; raw seafood and cold seafood such as smoked salmon; ice cream, fresh fruit and bagged vegetables can also carry listeria.