Australian strawberry growers needled by 'terrorism' as anger grows over sabotage

April FrancisSep 18, 2018

Empty shelves, normally stocked with strawberry punnets, are seen at a Coles supermarket in Brisbane.

At least 11 people across six Australian states have reported seeing needles in their strawberries, although a lot of them spotted the contamination before swallowing the fruits.

"Whoever is behind this is not just putting families at risk across Queensland and the rest of Australia - they are putting an entire industry at risk", Premier and Minister for Trade Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

He said: "I'm angry for all the associated people, it's the farmers, the people who supply them, the packaging people, the truckies with families to support, who suddenly lose their jobs.it's far-reaching".

Mr Stewart did not give details but confirmed police were also investigating a banana contamination.

Coles and Aldi supermarkets have reportedly pulled all strawberries from their shelves while two of New Zealand's biggest food companies - Countdown and Foodstuffs - have reportedly stopped importing Australian strawberries.

The dramatic move affects stores in every state except Western Australia.

The government of Queensland state, where the contamination scare was first reported last week, offered a 100,000 Australian dollar ($72,000, €62,000) reward for any information on those responsible.

The revelation comes hours after WA Police confirmed a member of the public presented at York Police Station on Monday to report he had found a needle in a punnet of strawberries.

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"Berry Licious, Berry Obsession, Donnybrook, Oasis and Love Berry branded strawberries have been withdrawn from shelves as a precautionary measure", the spokeswoman said.

The needles in strawberry crisis has taken a sinister turn, with authorities suggesting there may now be copycat incidents.

She said they were from a punnet of Delightful Strawberries.

Anton said he and his 19-year-old sister called the police immediately, who came and seized the punnet of fruit and needle.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that as consumers have shied away from purchasing the fruit over fears it will be contaminated with needles, farmers have ended up throwing out mass quantities of the strawberries they can't sell.

"They went through the green top and half way through strawberry so if you ate whole would not know", she said.

They have yet to reveal possible motives but the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association said a disgruntled former worker might be responsible.

Angela Stevenson said she cut into metal and then realised she had given her son strawberries for his packed lunch.

Health officials have urged people purchasing the fruit to be cautious.

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