Australian shoppers in three states have been warned to throw out strawberries after sewing needles were found inside the fruit, local media News reports.
The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association suspects a disgruntled ex-employee is behind the contamination that has led to recalls of two brands – Berry Obsession and Berry Licious – in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
“At this time, (we) 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,” a statement from the association said.
“To our current knowledge, two labels, Berry Licious and Berry Obsession are the only affected lines.”
While the contamination has only impacted two brands, Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young advised anyone who bought strawberries in the three states since early last week to get rid of them if they were worried and especially if they were not sure what brand they were.
“Definitely those two are the only brands of concern but if people don’t know, and they want to be ultra cautious, then it would be best if they just throw out any strawberries,” Young was quoted as saying.
“A lot of people won’t know the brand of strawberries they’ve bought … if they do have any strawberries it would be safest to dispose of them.”
Young said she was particularly worried about those who may have frozen the strawberries for use later and may not still have the packaging. Alternatively, shoppers who had frozen their strawberries could keep them until after police finished their investigation.
Queensland Police suspect the needles were deliberately planted in the punnets “obviously to injure somebody” or with another possible motive.