ALL states are being urged to cut up strawberries before consuming after many brands have been found to be contaminated with sewing needles.
UPDATE 17 Sep –
It’s feared copycats might be behind the latest discoveries inside supermarket strawberries, with consumers warned to continue to cut up any fruit not on the recall list before eating it.
Numerous needles and pins have been found in the fruit across the country, prompting the federal government to announce it’s examining the states’ handling of the problem.
Authorities hope a $100,000 reward for information offered by the Queensland government will lead to the capture of the culprit.
Berry Obsession, Berry Licious and Donnybrook Berries have recalled their strawberries nationwide.
Police are also investigating contamination of fruit sold by Delightful Strawberries, Love Berries and Oasis in stores in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT.
Tasmania now investigating alleged incident
Tasmania Police say they are investigating a claim that strawberries contaminated with needles were found at a Hobart supermarket.
In a statement, police said they had contacted Woolworths supermarket at Rosny Park “in relation to an alleged incident reported on social media regarding suspected contaminated strawberries”.
“This afternoon a customer returned strawberries to the supermarket which were purchased earlier in the day, alleging they had been contaminated by a needle,” the statement read.
Police attended the store, on Hobart’s eastern shore, over the weekend and collected the strawberries and were “conducting examinations on the products”, they said.
“As the products have yet to be forensically examined, it is unknown if the contamination is related to the ongoing incident in Queensland or a copycat.”
Strawberries with needles secreted inside have been found at a number of supermarkets in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia, prompting concerns.
Tasmania Police said “all relevant information is being collated in each state and provided to Queensland authorities to assist with their ongoing investigation”.
“Police wish to urge members of the public to be attentive when consuming food products, such as fresh strawberries, and to report the matter to police if they believe they have purchased products that have been potentially contaminated,” police said.
WA affected too
A West Australian strawberry grower says the person responsible for putting sewing needles into punnets must have a vendetta against the industry as the contamination scare spreads nationwide.
The WA Department of Health has warned consumers to check strawberries before eating them, after a needle was found in a punnet of Mal’s Black Label strawberries.
UPDATE on 14 Sep: QLD Health confirmed a third brand of strawberries recalled following credible complaints.
Donnybrook joins Berry Licious and Berry Obsession as major retailers Woolworths and Coles pull these brands from shelves.
Three new cases of needles in strawberries have now been confirmed, as a NSW mother revealed her ten-year-old child discovered sabotaged fruit.
Shoppers from Redbank Plains and Everton both in Queensland and Tweed Heads NSW have made the shock discoveries as it was confirmed a second brand has been sabotaged.
Donnybrook strawberries from the Sunshine Coast will now be recalled nationally.
Chantal Faugeras posted to Facebook images of strawberries she says she bought from a Coles supermarket on the NSW mid-north coast on Tuesday – following the scare in Queensland.
In the post Ms Faugeras says her 10-year-old discovered a pin embedded in a strawberry while eating a punnet they had bought from the Coles at Wingham. “We found 3 pins inside 3 strawberries,” Ms Faugeras wrote.
Advice is to cut any strawberry before eating.
The recall now affects a fourth state.
SA Health shared the news to consumers after being notified today of a brand of strawberries sold in South Australia which is linked to the contamination which impacted the eastern states earlier this week.
Queensland Health has found that Donnybrook strawberries, distributed in South Australia by Coles, Woolworths, IGA and Aldi, are associated with the contamination.
If you have Donnybrook strawberries at home or are unsure of which brand your strawberries are from, return them to the place of purchase or discard them.
While no other brands of strawberries have been implicated, consider chopping strawberries up before consumption if you are concerned.
If people come across a contaminated strawberry, they should notify SA Police News. Anyone who eats a contaminated strawberry should seek medical attention.
For more information, go to www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/foodsafety.
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.
Joshua Gane was driving with his friend, Haoni van Dorp on Sunday afternoon, when they went into the Strathpine Centre Woolworths, about 20km north of Brisbane.
Buying a punnet of strawberries, the two men left the supermarket and kept driving.
Soon after, van Dorp says he bit into one and swallowed half of a sewing needle, before the pair found another.
He posted the ordeal to Facebook, along with a picture that shows a metal pin poking out of a strawberry.
He said they took apart the rest of the strawberries, finding another pin.
He said his friend had to be taken to the emergency room with ‘severe abdomen pain’.
Queensland police are investigating. They have issued a statement here on Facebook LIVE.
Update 13 Sep
The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association suspects a disgruntled ex-employee was behind the sewing needles found in a number of strawberries sold by Woolworths, reports ABC news.
In a statement, the association said it had “reason to suspect” it was a former employee and was waiting on more information from Queensland police.
Police and Queensland Health have warned consumers to dispose or return punnets of two brands of strawberries — Berry Licious and Berry Obsession — which were sold in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
The strawberry association’s industry development officer Jennifer Rowling said it was an isolated incident and strawberries in general were safe to eat, recommending people “chop them in half”, if they were still concerned.
“It’s quite devastating for our growers — they’re really upset about it obviously, because this is their livelihood, and someone has taken it upon themselves to do something really nasty,” Ms Rowling said.
“As far as we’re concerned, our growers take pride in what they produce.”
Queensland Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence from the State Crime Command said police believed the contamination was deliberate.
“[It’s been done] obviously to injure somebody,” he said.
“Police have spoken to the person who operates the farm and they are assisting us with our inquiries,” he said.
Authorities across the three states were investigating to find the culprits.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Woolworths said it had taken the contaminated strawberries from the shelves, while the incident was being investigated with the suppliers.
“Customers are advised to return these products to their local Woolworths for a full refund,” the spokesperson said.
UPDATE – Young boy consumes strawberry at school which contained a sewing needle.
A Gladstone mother says her nine-year-old son is lucky he wasn’t injured after biting into a strawberry with a sewing needle embedded in it, reports ABC news.
Angela Stevenson purchased a Strawberry Obsession punnet from Woolworths in Kirkwood in Gladstone on Tuesday and found a needle when preparing the fruit for her youngest child.
“I was just cutting up some fruit in the morning for my 12-month-old and hit something hard and pulled it back and there was a needle embedded in it,” Ms Stevenson said.
“I then realised that my nine-year-old son had taken some strawberries to school, so I rang the school and said ‘I need you to stop him from eating the strawberries’.
“It wasn’t five minutes later they rang back and said it was too late, he’d actually bitten into it.
“Luckily he’d pulled it back out of his mouth and told the teacher there was a needle in his strawberry.”
She said it was lucky no-one was injured.
“I’m thankful I didn’t just pull the head off and give it to my 12-month-old whole — sometimes I do that,” she said.
“Hopefully they find who did it — it’s horrible, it’s sick.”
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