Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Australia strawberry needles scare widens as federal probe is launched

Australia strawberry needles scare widens as federal probe is launched

"Just go back to buying strawberries like you used to and take the precautions that you should", Morrison told Australians in a televised address.

On Wednesday, The Herald reported that a child at a primary school in Newcastle found a needle in a banana packed in his lunchbox - in a second reported case involving a banana thus far.

"We believe a lot of these will be hoaxes or copycat events, but the most important point is it's a diversion of resources, policing resources, when we want to find the true culprits", he said.

Jamie Michael, who is head of the Western Australia Strawberry Growers Association, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that his farm had dumped strawberries in the peak of the season and that if shoppers stayed away, some growers would not be able to afford to plant a crop for next year.

Police in Western Australia confirmed on Monday that they are investigating the first reported case of suspected needle contamination in the state.

Authorities have warned people to slice the fruit before eating with seven brands of strawberries in the country now believed to be contaminated.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt ordered the Food Safety Authority of Australia and New Zealand to investigate the scare.

Reuters reported that a man Western Australia and a girl in South Australia reported finding sewing needles in the fruit over the past two days.

"When the fruit was consumed this morning, a needle was found inside one of the strawberries".

"This a vicious crime, it's created to injure, and possibly worse, members of the population at large", said Hunt, according to ABC. A minister called it a "vicious crime".

Copycats who have devastated Queensland's strawberry industry by hiding needles inside fruit are worse than those behind the initial crime, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says.

A spokesman for the Australian retail conglomerate Woolworths Group said its New Zealand supermaket chain Countdown would not place new orders with Australian growers.

While a health warning to throw out or cut up strawberries remains in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia, a campaign has emerged on Twitter encouraging people to #smashastrawb.

The Queensland government has also come to the financial aid of the state's growers, after announcing a reward for information on the contamination scare on Sunday.

The scare is expected to result in a review of fruit handling, storage and packaging following the police investigations, Mr Thomson said.

"Berry Licious, Berry Obsession, Donnybrook, Oasis and Love Berry branded strawberries have been withdrawn from shelves as a precautionary measure", the spokeswoman said.

The state's police chief said it was unclear who is responsible for the contamination.

Like this: