Police are investigating the latest case in WA. Picture: AAP/Image Steve Pohlner
Police are investigating the latest case in WA. Picture: AAP/Image Steve Pohlner

New sabotaged strawberries discovered

POLICE in Western Australia have confirmed a disturbing fruit sabotage has spread the length of the country after yet another needle was discovered in a punnet of strawberries today.

And, just moments later South Australian police also confirmed a needle was found in a punnet of Mal's Black Label strawberries bought from Adelaide Fresh Fruiterers in Morphett Vale.

When the strawberries - bought from the Adelaide grocer - were cut open, a metal object was found embedded in one of the berries.

WA Police force confirmed a member of the public presented at York Police Station, west of Perth.

He told cops he found the needle in his sink after preparing strawberries for his family. He did not recall the needle being in the sink prior to preparing the berries.

The discovery comes after a series of cases in other states
The discovery comes after a series of cases in other states

"WA Police Force can confirm that a member of the public today presented at York Police Station to report his concerns that a needle had been in a punnet of strawberries," a police spokeswoman said.

"The member of the public advised he located the needle in his sink after preparing strawberries for his family.

"He did not recall the needle being in the sink prior to preparing the strawberries."

She added that the strawberries were "produced and packaged in Western Australia".

It comes after the state's health minister said strawberry tampering has not taken place in Western Australia despite the discovery of sewing needles secreted inside a punnet grown in the state and exported to South Australia.

South Australian police are investigating but WA Health Minister Roger Cook says people should be "very confident" about local strawberries.

"There has been no incident of tampering of strawberry products in WA," he told reporters today.

The sabotage has had a devastating effect on the industry. Picture: AAP/Image Steve Pohlner
The sabotage has had a devastating effect on the industry. Picture: AAP/Image Steve Pohlner

"People should obviously be cautious, but there should be no fear in consuming strawberry products." Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said farmers should not be left high and dry, but people needed to be protected from vicious attacks.

"The farmers need your help, someone's trying to sabotage them," he said. "Buy the strawberries, cut them into quarters and help the farmers overcome these mad men."

The industry was plunged into chaos last Sunday after a customer from Burpengary in Queensland bit into a strawberry with a needle inside it and ended up in hospital.

Since then, needles or pins have been reported in strawberries in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT. Affected brands include Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Love Berry, Donnybrook Berries, Delightful Strawberries and Oasis.

In response, Coles and Aldi pulled all strawberries from their shelves, while Woolworths pulled only the affected brands it stocked.

Aldi announced on Monday it would resume selling non-affected brands. That announcement came hours after New Zealand supermarket chain Foodstuffs said it would stop selling Australian strawberries.

This latest SA discovery comes as a day after a seven-year-old Adelaide Hills girl was lucky to escape serious injury when she bit into a strawberry containing a hidden sewing needle.

South Australian Police say she was not hurt.

"She bit into one of the strawberries and discovered a needle, which she told her mum about," Detective Inspector Billy Thompson told reporters today.

"The father took the strawberries to the store in Littlehampton, reported it to the manager, who in turn advised that the matter should be reported to police."

Police are investigating the contaminations and consumers are urged to cut up strawberries before eating them.

-with Frank Chung and AAP



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