Thursday, 18 October, 2018

'If in doubt, throw them out': Needles in strawberries prompt warning

Australia strawberry scare NZ stock not affected Australia strawberry scare NZ stock not affected
Lloyd Bates | 17 September, 2018, 12:08

In breaking news, the first reported instance of needles being found inside strawberry punnets in NSW has been reported.

"I found a needle, bit into it by accident and it snapped in half - or what felt like it snapped in half - and my knee jerk reaction was to swallow", the man told 7 News.

On Thursday Queensland police announced they were investigating a suspected copycat incident after a metal rod was discovered on top of strawberries inside a plastic punnet at a Coles in Gatton.

"We would hope the public can see this for what it is, as an isolated incident. this because strawberries are safe to eat", said Jennifer Rowling, industry development officer at Strawberries Australia, which represents growers.

"Any strawberries bought from 13 September are safe and any strawberries that you are certain are not the brands Berry Licious and Berry Obsession are safe", Dr Young said.

They suspect the Love Berry, Delightful Strawberries and Oasis labels have also had sewing needles inserted in them.

It comes after NSW mother Chantal Faugeras posted to Facebook images of strawberries she said were bought from a Coles supermarket on the NSW Mid North Coast on Tuesday.

Coles said they had been in contact with Ms Faugeras.

Queensland Police Service, who have launched an investigation into the potentially hazardous findings, revealed that affected brands include "Berry Obsession" and "Berry Licious", according to an update on the agency's Facebook account.

"I don't know, because the problem is there's so many people handling the fruit all the time, and packing, so I can not say where it happened", he told a Channel 9 reporter.

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A disgruntled former worker in Australia has been accused of purposely putting sewing needles in strawberries, according to police.

Driving with a friend, Haoni van Dorp, the two purchased a punnet of strawberries on Sunday afternoon.

But Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said just be ultra-cautious before eating them, no matter where you buy them from.

Police were investigating the possibility of an extortion attempt or someone carrying out a vendetta against the supermarket giant.

Victoria Police said what appeared to be sewing needles were located in two punnets in separate regional Victorian towns.

Consumers across all three states have been urged to chop up or throw out berries purchased in the past week as police seek a culprit for the sabotage.

The growers association released a statement acknowledging the reports.

Chief Superintendent Lawrence said those responsible for contaminating the fruit could be charged with maliciously causing grievous bodily harm, an offence which carries up to 10 years' imprisonment if convicted.

"Coles takes the safety of the food we sell seriously and we are working with our suppliers, police and state health regulators to investigate", a spokesperson said in a statement.

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