Veterinarian expert Svetlana Holoshnya of St.Petersburg's region laboratory holds up a test-tube with Salmonella bacteria obtained from U.S. poultry March 12, 2002. Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk

After more than 80 people were struck down by a national salmonella outbreak in Australia this week and the strain was linked to the “Red Dirt” Rockmelons, sale of rockmelons have fallen drastically. This is despite the rare bacterial strain of salmonella being isolated to the Northern Territory. The outbreak has rocked the industry and cut profits.

As per a Queensland grower, Sib Rapisarda, the past week has been immensely tough for the rockmelon industry despite the bacteria strain being isolated to a company in Katherine, in the Northern Territory, called Red Dirt Melons. Rapisarda expressed concern over the current state of affairs. News have brought all sales to nearly a halt.

People are in a state of panic and are giving even the “test-passed” rockmelons a miss. Produce from all other Australian melon farms has passed microbial tests. The Australian Melon Association said that Red Dirt’s produce has been completely removed and wouldn’t hit shelves until the company gets a clean chit from Northern Territory health department, writes The Guardian.

NSW Health is working closely with NSW Food Authority to find out the source of the contamination. All the patients admitted with salmonella infection said that they had consumed rockmelons.

Rockmelon growers are now keen to see fans buying the fruit again. Industry body Melons Australia is also assuring fans that it is now safe to again start eating rockmelons.

“It's been really difficult for Red Dirt, but they have cooperated with authorities to get the testing. The recall was big blow, but it's more important to be safe, we don't want anyone getting sick. But now Red Dirt's fruit has been cleared from the market the fruit that shoppers are seeing on the shelves is from other farms,” Melons Australia industry development manager Diane Fullelove told the ABC.

Growers are taking to private testing of their rockmelon produce and all test results produced negative results for salmonella so far. However, Fullelove has urged consumers to follow the guidelines of health officials while buying or consuming rockmelons.