Needle-in-strawberry scare spreads across Australia

Aussies need to dice up their strawberries carefully

Dr Harris said it was hard to speculate on the reason why people would target the strawberry industry.

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.

"We are dumping strawberries - we have stopped some of the varieties already", he told the ABC.

It remains unclear how the needles managed to get into the store-bought strawberries, and at which stage of the production process the fruits were contaminated.

"It's such a shame".

Several strawberry growers have been forced to dump fruit in the peak of the season. There has also been suggestions of using metal detectors and tamper-proof packaging.

A man told police in York, Western Australia he had found a needle in the sink after washing a punnet of strawberries.

One man was taken to hospital after eating a strawberry with a needle inside.

Sewing needles have been found in punnets of strawberries purchased in five states or territories - the latest in Tasmania.

At least six brands have been caught up in the scare: Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Love Berry, Donnybrook Berries, Delightful Strawberries and Oasis.

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

But in a sign of returning confidence, on Monday Aldi supermarkets announced that strawberries would be returned to their shelves. In New Zealand two major grocers, Woolworths NZ and Foodstuffs have halted the distribution of Australian strawberries.

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"There are significant leads in relation to that matter", he said, without providing details of the case.

Coles also said it recommenced the supply of strawberries into its stores on Monday afternoon.

Dr Young urged people to continue purchasing and consuming strawberries, but to cut them up before eating them.

Others fear the rising number of cases is down to copycats.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has offered a $100,000 reward.

"This is a serious issue and it just begs the question, how could any right-minded person want to put a baby or child or anybody's health at risk by doing such a terrible act?" she said.

Australia has some of the world's strictest biosecurity measures and stringent food safety rules.

Vice-president of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association, Adrian Schultz, says a single act of "commercial terrorism" has brought a multi-million-dollar industry to its knees.

"We're focusing very, very much on supply chain, the people involved in that", Mr Stewart said. "He's buggering the community and destroying the wider industry".

"I was shocked, I was surprised, I didn't think it would happen to me".

Mr Calle said it was only a small number of punnets affected out of millions, and he anxious the media coverage was encouraging copycats. "The contamination relates to what appears to be needles inserted in strawberries". "It's a criminal act". "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.

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