Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Needles found in more Australian strawberries, A$100k reward offered

Needles found in more Australian strawberries, A$100k reward offered

The confirmed cases happened in Queensland and Victoria, police said, adding that the brands are sold at locations in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association said it's likely the affected strawberries were tampered with between the time they were packed and the time they were bought.

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has issued the reward over concerns for growers as well as consumers.

A health warning to throw out or cut up strawberries remains in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia as authorities hunt those responsible.

Among the reports cited by the BBC are a 9-year-old boy who's said to have bit into a strawberry with a needle (he didn't swallow it) and a 21-year-old man who reportedly went to the ER after he ingested half a needle and experienced "severe abdominal pain".

"As the products have yet to be forensically examined, it is unknown if the contamination is related to the original Queensland incident or a copycat", NSW Police said in a statement late on Friday.

There are no imports of the affected brands of Australian strawberries that were reported to be contaminated with sewing needles, said the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore on Saturday (Sep 15).

"This is putting families' lives at risk and it's also putting the strawberry industry at risk", she said. "It is a very, very broad picture and we can't speculate in any way, shape or form", said Terry Lawrence, Queensland acting chief superintendent.

Despite the nation-wide fear, strawberry farmers have asked consumers to still purchase strawberries but chop them up the first.

"Police have liaised with retailers to ensure that all stock is removed from sale", police said.

"The most frustrating thing for us is there is no reason for WA consumers to be concerned or to avoid eating WA strawberries, given the incident happened 3000km away and appears to be the work of a disgruntled employee", he said.

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