Pregnant mum, Amelia Liddy-Sudbury, didn’t think twice when she bought some pre-cut rockmelon.

Thirty three weeks into her pregnancy, Mrs Liddy-Sudbury picked up a Listeria infection — one that could have killed her and her baby.

“I bought it, cut up and I think that was the source,” the 35-year-old Mosman mum tells Courier Mail.

Baby Theodore was delivered five weeks premature.

“It is a deadset miracle he is alive, once you are diagnosed with listeriosis, that’s usually it, the baby is dead,” Mrs Liddy-Sudbury said.

Listeriosis, caused by the food-borne listeria bacteria, kills one out of every five ­unborn babies it infects.

Sadly two weeks ago another pregnant mum tragically lost her baby to listeriosis.

The woman arrived at hospital with abdominal pain, headache and mild fever. Her baby was ­delivered by caesarean section but was stillborn as a result of the ­infection.

Including Mrs Liddy-Sudbury, it was the third ­pregnancy­-­related case this year in NSW, three times the usual rate.

NSW Health director Dr Vicky Sheppeard told Courier Mail the three cases represented a concerning spike.

“Around the country there have been more cases in the past six months as well,” she said.

Health authorities are now urgently reminding pregnant woman to be extra careful with their food choices.

Listeria bacteria is found in a variety of foods, including cold meats, cold cooked chicken, raw fish, soft-serve ice cream, soft cheeses and unpasteurised milk.

But the bacteria is also found in pre-cut fruit and pre-bagged salads, products that are highly popular in supermarkets and convenience stores.

“Those products are becoming more common and anything that has been cut and left is a risk, you have to wash and peel fruit and salad yourself if pregnant,” Dr Sheppeard said

The Food Safety Information Council says between 2010 and 2014 there were 61 deaths due to listeria in Australia.

While most of these cases were in adults with underlying health conditions, ten were unborn or new-born babies.

Although Listeria cases are rare it can be a very serious disease and miscarriage can result if a pregnant woman is infected, even if she doesn’t show any symptoms. The time from infection to symptoms can be anywhere between 8 to 90 days.

The Food Safety Information Council says Listeria is easily killed by heat, although cooked foods can easily become re-contaminated through poor food handling after cooking.

This is one of the few pathogens that can grow at refrigeration temperatures, so ready to eat food should never be stored in the fridge too long.

Although Listeria can grow in the fridge, it will do so very slowly so make sure your refrigerator is keeping your food at or less than 5°C.

See tips below from Food Safety Information Council on how to avoid Listeria:
1.    prepare and cook your own food so you know it is fresh
2.    wash your hands before handling food and keep your kitchen and utensils clean
3.    avoid refrigerated foods that are past their ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date
4.    refrigerate leftovers as soon as they stop steaming and use within 24 hours, reheat them to 75 °C

Also try to avoid foods which have a higher risk of Listeria contamination such as:
•     cold meats from delicatessen counters and sandwich bars, and packaged, sliced ready-to-eat meats
•     cold cooked ready- to-eat chicken (whole, portions, or diced)
•     pre-prepared or pre-packaged fruit or vegetable salads, including those from buffets and salad bars
•     chilled seafood such as raw oysters, sashimi and sushi, smoked ready-to-eat seafood and cooked ready-to-eat prawns
•     soft, semi-soft and surface-ripened cheeses such as brie, camembert, ricotta, blue and feta
•     refrigerated paté or meat spreads
•     soft serve ice cream
•     unpasteurised dairy products.

Share your comments below.

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  • very scary!


  • luckily she was ok and the baby too. that is scary


  • There is an alarming number of foods that carry risks. You certainly don’t expect it with fruit. A whole melon would be too large to eat while fresh. Can youy accidentally contaminate it yourself if you ensure all your surfaces are thoroughly cleaned.


  • What a scary thing to happen. Especially as she was eating fresh fruit. I’ll never buy cut up fruit again that’s for sure. Glad Mum and bub are okay but also sorry for the Mum who lost her baby.


  • How lucky this lady’s baby was alive but still, it has come at a cost with being premmie. I hope everything works out in the end for them all. Yes, even in Australia you can’t be to complacent with making sure to avoid certain foods and be aware of risks to your unborn baby.


  • I never buy vegetables that are precut or packaged ie Pumpkin, lettuce mixed salad leaves, rockmelon, watermelon, apples pears etc . I have always thought that packaged goods are unhealthy one does not know how long in the package or if the knife that cut up the pumpkin rockmelon etc was clean. I do notice that some supermarkets are now selling lettuce unpackaged , they must have learnt that people will not buy them Packaged only thing is they still strip all the outside leaves off. please leave them on the lettuce stays fresher with no loss of leaves which happens when they strip them off.


  • Thank got her baby is alive, but how sad another pregnant mum tragically lost her baby to listeriosis 2 weeks ago.
    I buy most fruits and vegetables in whole, except for watermelon, cause it too big to keep in my fridge.


  • So pleased everything worked out all right. I never buy preprepared foods for this very reason.


  • I’m always very hesitant to buy pre-cut fruit and veg for this very reason, and I always prefer to buy the whole fruit or vegetable.


  • Glad to hear everything worked out,you never know!


  • So very glad bub and mum are ok …wishing them continued good health.


  • wow, very concerning. Who would have thought fruit could be an issue


  • Wow. I never thought it could be in fruit.


  • Quite concerning. I had no idea fruit was an issue.


  • This must have been so scary. I feel for the poor mother. Who would have thought some pre cut fruit could cause such harm. I certainly didn’t. So glad bub is ok and will definitely be more away in the future.


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