Six berry brands linked to needle sabotage

Fredrick Soto
September 17, 2018

The health concerns over needles and pins found inside Australian strawberries are continuing to escalate with NSW police now warning up to six brands may have been affected.

Queensland man Hoani Hearne wound up in hospital after swallowing part of a needle and developing severe abdominal pain on Sunday.

In a Facebook post, Joshua Gane said his friend swallowed "half a sewing needle" after biting into a strawberry.

"I'm out here today to advise people if they've bought any strawberries in Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria since early last week, that they should dispose of them", Queensland Health's chief health officer Jeanette Young said.

Acting Chief Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence said anyone who finds anything in their fruit should contact police, who will come and collect them as potential evidence.

'To our current knowledge, two labels, Berry Licious and Berry Obsession are the only affected lines.

"It wasn't five minutes later they rang back and said it was too late, he'd actually bitten into it", she told ABC radio.

It is understood that both punnets were Delightful Strawberries brand.

The supermarket withdrew Berry Obsession and Berrylicious branded strawberries from sale and advised consumers to return these products to their local branch for a full refund.

Investigations are underway after another strawberry contamination case has been reported in Townsville, in north Queensland.

A product recall is under way in three states of Australia because sewing needles have been found inside strawberries sold in supermarkets.

A mother of three in Gladstone also found two needles in a punnet while cutting up the fruit.

NewsRegional has contacted the woman and Coles for further information.

"At this time, the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association have reason to suspect that a disgruntled ex-employee may have orchestrated the occurrence, wherein sewing needles were found in a number of strawberries in Queensland and Victoria", the statement reads.

On Thursday, Queensland police announced they were investigating a suspected copycat incident after a metal rod was discovered on top of strawberries inside a plastic punnet at Coles in Gatton.

Police believe they have contained the threat, which was first reported over the weekend.

"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.

"Our investigation is still open, we're not going to get into speculation".

In the post Ms Faugeras says her 10-year-old discovered a pin embedded in a strawberry while eating a punnet they had bought from the Coles at Wingham.

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