Australia enters food scare after needles found in dozens of strawberries

Cornelia Mascio
Settembre 19, 2018

One big retailer in New Zealand said it would halt the sale of Australian strawberries in the wake of the scare.

Mr Morrison said he hoped the penalties, on top of actions by the State Governments, would help encourage people back to buying strawberries and other fruit.

Needles have also been discovered in an apple and a banana, NSW Police confirmed on Tuesday.

But Dutton said he believed numerous 100 separate reports were hoaxes or copycats, and he was angry about the diversion of police resources to the matter.

On Sunday a Sunshine Coast strawberry grower announced on Facebook that they had informed their 100 staff that they were now out of work and the farm's paddocks of fresh strawberries were being destroyed.

"Obviously in the last few days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries, and he'll be dealt with under the youth cautioning system", he said.

A $100,000 reward has already been offered for information on the Queensland strawberry saboteur amid fears six brands across four states have been targeted with needle insertion.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has ordered a federal investigation into the contamination. "This a vicious crime, it's created to injure, and possibly worse, members of the population at large", Hunt said. The newspaper said at least 15 cases of fruit tampering have been identified across the country, and detailed that a major strawberry supplier in WA had started using a metal detector in an attempt to reduce the impact on the $280 million strawberry industry.

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

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Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud had earlier called for jail time for those responsible for the sabotage.

Those laws would be more likely to capture copycat cases, attorney-general Christian Porter said.

The contamination was first reported in Queensland, where the government is offering a $100,000 reward (almost $72,000 in US dollars) for information.

Today Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a $1 million support fund for strawberry farmers saying the state was the victim of an "ugly, calculated and despicable crime".

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.

Reports of fruit contamination being investigated by police.

The health department said strawberries under three brands had been recalled: Berry Obsession, Berry Licious and Donnybrook Berries.

A media spokeswoman for the Police Minister who was at the event said fortunately the Commissioner was aware of the incident.

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