Six berry brands linked to needle sabotage

Daniel Fowler
September 16, 2018

Contaminated strawberry products were distributed across Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

"Farmers are really nervous about it, obviously, and devastated something as terrible as this would happen to the industry", Ms Rowling said.

People in possession of the brands in question should refrain from using them and strawberries from other companies "should be cut up" for safe measure, police said in the update, quoting Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeannette Young.

Queensland Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence says its a complex operation, because the industry provides more than 250,000 punnets of strawberries in Queensland alone in a five-day period.

"He didn't get hurt or anything - didn't get pricked", she said.

"We are now working with retailers nationwide to ensure that all Donnybrook stock is removed from sale", Dr Young said.

"At this time, (we) have reason to suspect that a disgruntled ex-employee may have orchestrated the occurrence, wherein sewing needles were found in a number of strawberries", the association's Jennifer Rowling said.

The two brands affected by the original incident, Berry Obsession and Berrylicious, came from the same farm.

NSW Police warned on Friday that six brands of strawberries may be contaminated by sewing needles.

"We're almost at that point of cost of production being greater than what we're selling them for".

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NSW Police are also urging anyone who has purchased contaminated product to take the punnet to their local police station immediately for triage and forensic examination.

"Strawberries are a great fruit, and people should continue to buy them, but everyone should simply cut them up".

Australian authorities earlier this week asked people to dispose of strawberries purchased from Woolworths Group if they bore the brand of Berry Licious or Berry Obsession after three punnets were discovered to include fruit embedded with sewing needles.

Investigators said there are four contamination incidents, two each in Queensland and Victoria.

She said the punnets were both Delightful Strawberries branded products.

They are sold at Woolworths and possibly other outlets.

"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 wrote in a statement.

"We're keeping a very open mind as to where this may have occurred somewhere between the actual growing of the strawberry through to the end of the production line, including even further through to distribution and going onto the shelves", he said.

Angela told The Observer she was cutting the fruit for her daughter Koby-Rose on Tuesday morning when her knife hit metal.

Anyone with information has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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