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Episode 1: Why Australians are off Rockmelons

SBS Italian news, with a slower pace.

At SBS Radio we do realise that for a non-native speaker our speech delivery could be very fast and difficult to follow.

Fear no more! To make things right, we are starting Slow Italian, Fast Learning, the very best of the week’s news, read at a slower pace, with Italian and English text available.

Doesn’t it sound amazing? Let’s begin with Episode 1.

 

Italian

Gli australiani sono stati esortati a gettare nella spazzatura i meloni, nello specifico i rockmelons, acquistati nei giorni scorsi a causa dello scoppio di un epidemia di listeriosi che, fino ad ora, ha provocato la morte di due persone nel New South Wales.

Ma che cos'è la listeriosi ed in che modo colpisce i meloni?

La listeriosi è una malattia rara, causata da un batterio, che può avere anche conseguenze molto gravi. L'anno scorso sono stati registrati 71 casi in Australia e quest'anno ne sono già stati registrati 30.

Le persone a cui viene diagnosticata la listeriosi di solito vengono ricoverate o curate con antibiotici, anche se normalmente è una malattia che non colpisce le persone con un sistema immunitario forte.

Lisa Szabo, direttrice della New South Wales Food Authority, ha confermato ai microfoni di SBS che la listeriosi si contrae normalmente attraverso il cibo.

"The organism is found very widely in our environment. It's present in the soil, it can be present in water. It can be present in animals, whether they're pets or cattle or sheep, et cetera. So, it's not unexpected that it does find its way into food."

Il consumo di alimenti preconfezionati come carni, latticini, insalate e prodotti a base di soia possono causare la listeriosi. Sono soprattutto le donne incinta quelle più a rischio: la listeriosi normalmete non è contagiosa, ma una donna incinta potrebbe trasmetterla al feto e, come risultato, potrebbe incorrere in un parto prematuro.

Altre categorie della popolazione particolarmente a rischio di contrarre la listeriosi sono gli anziani, i bimbi piccoli e tutti coloro con un sistema immunitario indebolito da malattie croniche o dall'assunzione prolungata di farmaci.

Secondo Lisa Szabo, la listeriosi è un infezione che non va presa sottogamba, nonstante spesso presenti i sintomi di una semplice influenza.

"People can have aches and pains, fever, chills. Some people do get nausea, and, sometimes, people will get diarrhoea. In very extreme cases, people can get septicaemia (blood poisoning) or meningitis, and, unfortunately, sometimes people do die as a result of the more severe forms of illness."

Secondo la Australia New Zealand Food Standards Authority, almeno 15 persone all'anno muoiono a causa dell'infezione. Il consiglio della Szabo per evitarla è quello di seguire le regole di buona igiene personale e di stare all'erta quando si acquistano prodotti freschi.

"We would be saying to people -- particularly, those who fall into those high-risk groups -- not to purchase melons that have been bruised or damaged, that might be giving a bit of an indication that maybe organisms that are on the outside of the food have got into the middle. And, those basic hygiene messages around you washing your hands before and after handling food, making sure that your cutting boards, your dishes, your utensils and countertops are always washed."

Al momento sembra che l'origine dell'epidemia di listeriosi sia da ricercarsi in una piantagione del New South Wales, che ha cessato la distribuzione dei suoi prodotti la scorsa settimana, subito dopo essere stata informata di un potenziale collegamento tra il consumo dei suoi prodotti e l'aumento dei casi di listeriosi nel paese.

Secondo Lydia Buchtmann del Food Safety Information Council, fino a che non si sarà conclusa l'indagine sulle cause dell'epidemia, è più prudente non consumare un certo tipo di meloni.

"If you've got melons at home, it's probably not a bad idea to discard them, and New South Wales Health is suggesting that you put them in the rubbish, you don't compost them. But be reassured that, the melons actually out in the supermarkets in the shops at the moment, they're safe. The ones with the problem have been recalled."

Come consiglia Lydia Buchtmann, sarebbe opportuno quindi eliminare i meloni gettandoli nella spazzatura ma allo stesso tempo va sottolineato che i meloni attualmente sul mercato si possono consumare con tranquillità, visto che quelli infettati sono stati ritirati dal commercio.

L'allarme sulla listeriosi arriva dopo che nel 2016 l'Australia venne scossa da un'epidemia di salmonella, legata invece ai cocomeri provenienti da una fattoria del Northern Territory: in quel caso 97 persone furono colpite dall'infezione, pur non essendoci state vittime.

La Buchtmann afferma che, nonostante si stiano prendendo tutte le precauzioni possibili e si stia investigando sull'accaduto, è comunque molto difficile debellare completamente la listeriosi dall'Australia.

"The Melon Association is meeting with retailers today and is working very closely with health authorities to make sure it doesn't happen again. And it is unusual in Australia. We've got quite a good food-safety system here. But, it's certainly something that needs to be looked into. Really, you can never completely eradicate listeria from food. Therefore, the advice for people at risk is you need to avoid fruit salads and salads that you've bought out. It's okay to prepare (one) for yourself."


 

 

English

Australians have been urged to throw out rockmelons they have previously purchased after a listeria outbreak that has left two people dead in New South Wales.

But what is listeria, and how does it relate to rockmelons?

Also known as listeriosis, listeria is a rare but potentially severe illness caused by bacteria.

Last year, 71 cases were logged, and, this year, there have already been 30.

People with listeria usually require hospitalisation or antibiotics, although it is generally uncommon in people with robust immune systems.

New South Wales Food Authority chief executive Lisa Szabo (SAH-boh) tells SBS listeria most frequently comes through food.

"The organism is found very widely in our environment. It's present in the soil, it can be present in water. It can be present in animals, whether they're pets or cattle or sheep, et cetera. So, it's not unexpected that it does find its way into food."

Pre-packaged foods such as meats, dairy and pre-prepared salads and soy products have all been linked to listeria.

Pregnant women need to be especially vigilant.

Listeria is not normally transmittable, but a pregnant woman can pass it to her unborn baby, possibly resulting in stillbirth or premature birth.

Others at greater risk of infection include the elderly, small children, those whose immune systems have been weakened by chronic illness and those taking immunity-impairing medications.

Ms Szabo says the infection should be taken seriously, despite often presenting as a simple, flu-like illness.

"People can have aches and pains, fever, chills. Some people do get nausea, and, sometimes, people will get diarrhoea. In very extreme cases, people can get septicaemia (blood poisoning) or meningitis, and, unfortunately, sometimes people do die as a result of the more severe forms of illness."

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Authority says about 15 people a year die from the infection.

To avoid the infection, Ms Szabo says, people need to maintain good hygiene and be careful when buying fresh produce.

"We would be saying to people -- particularly, those who fall into those high-risk groups -- not to purchase melons that have been bruised or damaged, that might be giving a bit of an indication that maybe organisms that are on the outside of the food have got into the middle. And, those basic hygiene messages around you washing your hands before and after handling food, making sure that your cutting boards, your dishes, your utensils and countertops are always washed."

The listeria outbreak has been linked to a grower in New South Wales who ceased distribution last week after being notified of a potential link to the upsurge in cases.

The Food Safety Information Council's Lydia Buchtmann has told the ABC, while an investigation is underway into what happened, it is safe to resume eating certain melons.

"If you've got melons at home, it's probably not a bad idea to discard them, and New South Wales Health is suggesting that you put them in the rubbish, you don't compost them. But be reassured that, the melons actually out in the supermarkets in the shops at the moment, they're safe. The ones with the problem have been recalled."

The warning comes after a salmonella outbreak linked to rockmelons from a Northern Territory farm rocked Australia in 2016.

A total of 97 cases were recorded then, although none was fatal.

Ms Buchtmann says it is going to be difficult to completely rid Australia of listeria.

"The Melon Association is meeting with retailers today and is working very closely with health authorities to make sure it doesn't happen again. And it is unusual in Australia. We've got quite a good food-safety system here. But, it's certainly something that needs to be looked into. Really, you can never completely eradicate listeria from food. Therefore, the advice for people at risk is you need to avoid fruit salads and salads that you've bought out. It's okay to prepare (one) for yourself."

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