Needle in Strawberry Sends Young Man to Hospital

Gladys Abbott
September 16, 2018

Another Wamuran grower, Mandy Schultz, took to Facebook before the needle contamination fears kicked in to say she received a phone call from a wholesale agent to say he was not accepting anything but extra large strawberries.

"Luckily, in each of those cases, the needles were found within the strawberry by the person who had purchased them when cutting the strawberries, as we had asked them to do", he said.

The suspected copycat incident, reported at a supermarket in Gatton, involves the discovery of a thin metal object in a punnet of strawberries.

Queensland police in Australia issued a photo of a batch of "contaminated strawberries" in connection to what they said they believe is a "copycat incident".

In New Zealand, New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square stores are stocking some Australian strawberries ahead of the start of the local season, but a Foodstuffs spokesperson said none of their fruit was associated with the recall in Australia.

Aaron said at first they thought it could have been an accident - but quickly realised the needle must have been put there maliciously.

Canberrans who have bought fresh strawberries recently are being urged to check the brand after sewing needles were found in some berries interstate.

The initial brands affected by the contamination, Berry Licious and Berry Obsession, have already been removed from sale and are no longer in market.

Strawberries from Berry Obsession and Berry Licious have been contaminated with sewing needles.

The major scare has not only damaged his farm's reputation, but also the entire strawberry industry which is suffering because of low prices.

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"It's quite safe to buy them but just cut them up and check there isn't anything in there that shouldn't be in there", she said.

The disturbing discovery was made by a Coles employee who saw the risky object inside a punnet of strawberries at a shop in Gatton, west of Brisbane yesterday.

Only weeks ago, some supermarkets dropped the price of strawberries as low as $1 per punnet to help suppliers move tonnes of excess produce.

Police have been investigating at the Berrylicious and Berry Obsession farms.

The growers association released a statement acknowledging the reports.

"We could be finished by the weekend", he said.

"People are contacting us out of concern and saying: 'This is what I've got, what do you think?'", he said.

It comes after Queensland Health advised for anyone concerned they may have consumed the contaminated strawberries to contact 13 43 25 84 or speak to their GP immediately.

"We're keeping a very open mind as to where this may have occurred somewhere between the actual growing of the strawberry through to the end of the production line, including even further through to distribution and going onto the shelves", he said.

Charges of malicious acts to cause grievous bodily harm could lead to a prison sentence of 10 years.

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