Ex-employee suspected after strawberries spiked with needles

17 September, 2018, 12:09 | Author: Teresa Adams
  • 'If in doubt, throw them out': Needles in strawberries prompt warning

Authorities say there are other reported cases of sabotaged strawberries that are yet to be confirmed, and South Australian consumers have also been warned to discard Donnybrook-branded strawberries.

Punnets of Berry Obsession and Berry Licious strawberries were pulled from Woolworths shelves in Queensland, NSW and Victoria on Wednesday after reports of needles being found in strawberries.

Another Wamuran grower, Mandy Schultz, took to Facebook before the needle contamination fears kicked in to say she received a phone call from a wholesale agent to say he was not accepting anything but extra large strawberries.

"I bit straight in - knee-jerk reaction was to swallow - and yeah it wasn't a pleasant surprise", the 21-year-old told Nine Network.

"Queensland Police Service is leading the investigation, with Victoria Police's Fraud and Extortion Squad detectives assisting".

Stores will be throwing out strawberries now in stock but fresh produce will be available tomorrow, Dr Young said.

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"Yesterday, I said anyone that had bought those products since the start of last week needed to dispose of them", Dr Jeanette Young said on Thursday. "They went through the green top and half way thru strawberry so if you ate whole would not know", 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.

"It does appear to be an isolated incident so far.it's the perception that people have that's the concern".

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

Chief Superintendent Lawrence says thankfully no one has been harmed, as all the reports have come from people who have found the pins and needles after cutting the strawberries prior to consumption.

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"They are also contacting the supplier, the police and health and safety", Gane stated.

Police said an employee bought a punnet of strawberries at Coles and found a silver rod inside.

Police were investigating the possibility of an extortion attempt or someone carrying out a vendetta against the supermarket giant.

But Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said just be ultra-cautious before eating them, no matter where you buy them from.

Angela Stevenson, a mother of two, bought Berry Obsession strawberries from Woolworths in Gladstone on September 11, ABC reported.

Queensland Strawberry Growers Association issued a statement saying they "have reason to suspect that a disgruntled ex-employee may have orchestrated the occurrence", but Det.

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"We're keeping a very open mind as to where this may have occurred", he said, adding that Queensland police are working with officers in other states.

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