Man reportedly eats strawberry with needle inside, police confirm 4 'contamination' incidents
15 September, 2018, 17:11 | Author: Eric Barnett
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.
Australia's industry development officer Jennifer Rowling said: "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".
The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has issued the reward over concerns for growers as well as consumers.
Queensland Police Service, who have launched an investigation into the potentially hazardous findings, revealed that affected brands include "Berry Obsession" and "Berry Licious", according to an update on the agency's Facebook account.
The needles were discovered in three strawberries in a single punnet, which a customer had bought from Coles in Engadine in Sydney's south.
Officials said it is still safe to buy strawberries but consumers should cut them up before eating them.
She said the punnets were both Delightful Strawberries-branded products.
One man has been taken to hospital after swallowing fragments and a nine-year-old boy reportedly found a needle while eating a strawberry, but did not swallow it.
A police spokesman said that in this instance, there were no injuries as a result of the contamination. "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.
"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.
Police are also investigating a copycat saboteur after a Coles employee at a Gatton store, about 90 kilometres west of Brisbane, found a "small silver rod" on top of strawberries in a punnet.
Consumers have been urged to chop up or throw out berries purchased in the past week as police seek a culprit.
Certain brands have been removed from sale.
The product is now set to under-go forensic testing at the local police station and authorities work with the supermarket.
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