Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

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

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

Four punnets of Berry Licious and Berry Obsession strawberries, two in Queensland and two in Victoria, have been found to contain needles.

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

Punnets supplied by three brands have been recalled from supermarket shelves although New South Wales Police said they believed a further three brands may be affected.

The concerned consumer handed in the infected product to their local police station after they found the three sharp objects inside the berry.

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

A $100,000 reward has reportedly been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Australia's strawberry spikers, amid fears up to six brands may have been contaminated with needles and pins.

NSW Police said in statement: "These brands are believed to be sold in stores in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory".

People in possession of the brands in question should refrain from using them and strawberries from other companies "should be cut up" for safe measure, police said in the update, quoting Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeannette Young.

"At this stage, please cut them up and just look to make sure they haven't been contaminated", she said.

"As with all farmers who produce food for our nation, strawberry growers strive to ensure the quality, security and freshness of their produce and these spiteful incidents have been extremely disheartening and troubling", the association said.

Consumers have been urged to chop up or throw out berries purchased in the past week as police seek a culprit.

The customer handed the punnet in to Sutherland Area Police Command, where it will undergo forensic testing.

Certain brands have been removed from sale.

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