Australia searches for culprit hiding sewing needles in strawberries

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It's a crime so odd that any motive seems almost inconceivable.

Australians have been warned to cut fresh strawberries before biting into them after several people found sewing needles hidden inside the fruit.

A Coles customer found pins sticking from the sabotaged fruit after purchasing the punnet from a supermarket in Engadine in Sydney's south on Friday. The Australian newspaper reported that there have been at least seven reported cases in three Australian states, raising concerns that copycats are working separately to contaminate the berries.

Despite the nation-wide fear, strawberry farmers have asked consumers to still purchase strawberries but chop them up the first.

A Queensland man posted this photo of a strawberry with a needle in it after reporting his friend swallowed one. "It is simply unacceptable".

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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.

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 broadcaster also said wholesale prices have dropped by around half. A number of grocers have removed the berries from their shelves.

"The most frustrating thing for us is there is no reason for WA consumers to be concerned or to avoid eating WA strawberries, given the incident happened 3000km away and appears to be the work of a disgruntled employee", he said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told media on Saturday investigators were doing "everything they possibly can" to find those responsible for the tampering, and pleaded with the public to come forward if they knew any information.

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