'Disgruntled ex-employee' blamed for needle in Woolworths strawberries

16 September, 2018, 15:12 | Author: Mary Valdez
  • Supplied  Qld Police The recalled strawberry brands

Police began looking into the potentially risky berries after a Facebook user on Saturday wrote that their friend took a bite of a strawberry and ate "half a sewing needle", according to the Palm Beach Post.

Angela Stevenson, from Gladstone, told Seven News her nine-year-old accidentally bit into one of the contaminated strawberries after she packed them for his school lunch.

Donnybrook operates three farms on the Sunshine Coast but distributes strawberries throughout Australia, including to Coles.

Authorities said that the contaminated strawberries-branded Berrylicious and Berry Obsession-came from two farms located next to each other in south-east Queensland.

Yesterday, police in Queensland revealed there may even be a copycat contaminator on the loose after a fourth case of an Aussie consumer finding needle fragments in their berries.

Queensland Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence said on September 12 that the police were in contact with the farm operators and Woolworths representatives, and that they believed that the offender contaminated the stock intentionally. "We'd be lucky at the moment to get between $3-4 a kilo", Mr Schultz said.

Police are making inquiries into a suspected copycat incident as part of the investigation into the contamination of strawberries in Queensland. "I pulled it out and there was a needle right there embedded in the strawberry", she said.

Coles said they had been in contact with Ms Faugeras.

These include Donnybrook strawberries and those sold by the Woolworths Group under the Berry Obsession and Berry Licious names.

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

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"It's quite safe to buy them but just cut them up and check there isn't anything in there that shouldn't be in there", she said.

Back in New Zealand, Foodstuff external relations manager Sue Hamilton says ahead of the New Zealand strawberry season kicking off, New World, PaK'n'Save and Four Square stores are stocking some Australian strawberries.

What's going on with the strawberries?

The suspected copycat incident, reported at a supermarket in Gatton, involves the discovery of a thin metal object in a punnet of strawberries.

But the bottom line is: If in doubt, throw them out. The strawberry stock should be replaced by Thursday and will be safe to consume.

"I don't know, because the problem is there's so many people handling the fruit all the time, and packing, so I can not say where it happened", he told a Channel 9 reporter.

She added there was no reason to stop eating strawberries but the public needed to be aware of the incident.

Police said a Coles employee had discovered the silver rod in a punnet of strawberries they had purchased at work.

Anyone with information that could assist the police investigation is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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