Needles found in strawberries in two more Australian states

Needles found in strawberries in two more Australian states

The Queensland agriculture minister, Mark Furner, met with strawberry growers nervous about their future as the number of needle contamination cases grew to 10 and New Zealand food distributors removed Australian strawberries from their shelves.

This comes after a nationwide strawberry sabotage, with sewing needles and pins found in punnets sold in Aussie supermarkets.

The Mal's Black Label strawberries were grown in Western Australia, where a man on Monday reported to the York Police Station in regional WA that he'd found a needle in a punnet of strawberries. No injuries have been reported.

On Monday, New Zealand company Foodstuffs - which supplies about half of the country's supermarkets - said it had stopped importing Australian strawberries due to the scare.

The New Zealand strawberry season would kick off shortly, filling the supply gap, a spokesman said.

"This is a very vicious crime and it's a general attack on the public, and it's also an attack on a specific industry", Health Minister Greg Hunt said about the matter.

The strawberry contamination crisis has taken a sinister turn as a seven-year-old Adelaide Hills girl discovered a needle in her piece of fruit.

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Berry Licious, Berry Obsession and Donnybrook branded strawberries, all Queensland brands, remain off the shelves at some supermarkets with Coles pulling all strawberries off their shelves except in Western Australia.

Andrew Broad, MP for Mallee in Victoria state, said: "The low-life scum, who think it's somehow amusing to put needles in strawberries, I think should be chucked in jail as soon as they're identified".

Health officials have urged people purchasing the fruit to be cautious.

Vice-president of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association, Adrian Schultz, says what started with a single act of "commercial terrorism" has brought a multi-million-dollar industry to its knees.

"Industry are looking at lots of different ways of tackling this issue".

"It looks to be a copycat thing", the spokesman said.

Handasyde said he paid AU$20,000 for a metal detector for his berry farm.

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