AUSTRALIAN and New Zealand police are investigating a series of cases whereby supermarket strawberries have been found to contain sewing needles hidden inside.
The first case of contamination came from the state of Queensland last week and since then there has been several cases in all six Australian states.
No injuries have been reported, but growers have taken to measures such as using metal detectors on their produce while the Queensland government have offered a 100,000 Australian dollar reward for information which may lead authorities to the culprit of the crime.
Australian police have said that there has been 20 reported cases of needles or pins being found in strawberries in the state of New South Wales alone, and that the offence could carry up to ten years in jail.
Six brands of the fruit have been recalled since the incident was first reported.
Those are Donnybrook Berries, Love Berry, Delightful Strawberries, Oasis, Berry Obsession and Berry Licious.
Both of New Zealand’s major food distributors, Foodstuffs and Countdown, announced on Monday that they are also taking Australian strawberries off their shelves because of the scare.
New South Wales Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty, who described the fruit contamination as an act of “treachery.”
He said: “We still haven’t any confirmed motivation or reasons why a person would want to do this. We haven’t any confirmed demands.
“Who puts needles and pins into strawberries, knowing that’s going to go to families and young kids? There’s some issues there, obviously.”
Meanwhile, Queensland Strawberry Growers Association vice president Adrian Schultz said what had started as a single act of “commercial terrorism” had brought a multimillion-dollar industry to its knees.
“I’m angry for all the associated people, it’s the farmers, the people who supply them, the packaging people, the truckies with families to support, who suddenly lose their jobs ... it’s far-reaching,” Mr Schultz added.