THE terrifying ‘food sabotage’ crisis which has rocked Australia has spread overseas after strawberries with needles hidden inside were found on sale in New Zealand.
The Countdown supermarket chain says it has taken a brand of Australian strawberries off its shelves after the shocking find in a punnet of the fruit in Auckland.
Food tamperers face 10 to 15 years behind bars under laws passed by the Australian parliament (stock)[/caption]
There have already been more than 100 reports of needles being found in supermarket fruit in Australia – many are believed to be copycat crimes or even social media stunts.
The strawberries found in Auckland, originally from Western Australia state, were sold in New Zealand Countdown stores nationwide last week.
“We take food safety very seriously,” the company said in a statement.
“Customers can return any Choice brand of strawberries they may have at home to Countdown for peace of mind and a full refund.”
The well-known chain has now advised all its customers to cut up any Australian strawberries they have bought before eating them.
It added the brand of strawberries affected by this withdrawal “have not previously had any issues of this nature reported and had not been withdrawn from sale in Australia”.
The Australian government last week raised the maximum prison sentence for fruit tampering from 10 to 15 years, and there is a reward of £55,000or anyone able to offer information.
Cops in Australia announced they were hunting a “commercial terrorist” amid the fruit sabotage scare – after a needle was found in supermarket banana.
Cops in Australia are now investigating the case of a contaminated banana after punnets of strawberries were spiked with needles[/caption]
The probe comes after punnets of strawberries spiked with needles were found in six states and territories, with a minister branding the tampering a “vicious crime”.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart confirmed police were “investigating an incident” but did not give details about where the contaminated banana was found.
So far, sewing needles have been found in strawberries sold in Victoria and Queensland but the crisis has also spread to NSW, ACT and South Australia.
It is believed the contamination may affect various brands of strawberries including Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Love Berry, Donnybrook Berries, Delightful Strawberries, and Oasis.
Sewing needles like this one have been found in punnets of fruit in six states across Australia[/caption]
The bizarre attacks have been branded a ‘vicious crime’[/caption]
The vice-president of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association, Adrian Schultz, said what started with a single “act of commercial terrorism” had brought a multimillion-dollar industry to its knees.
He also said jobs beyond the growers are now likely to be lost.
He told ABC Radio: “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.”
Last week we told how Aussie mum Chantal Faugeras found three needles stabbed through the berries after buying them from a Coles supermarket in Wingham, New South Wales.
She shared footage on Facebook which appeared to show her finding needles in the store-bought strawberries.
Her video was met with outrage and horror, with commenters asking, “What is wrong with people?”
She said the first needle was discovered when her daughter bit into one of the strawberries and found the hidden item on Wednesday.
After checking the rest of the punnet she found two more needles.
Chantal told news.com.au: “We found three all up in one punnet. My ten-year-old found the first after biting into one and brought the rest to me.
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“I was shocked to see a pin sticking out of the one she bit and decided to squash the others in case and that’s when we found two others.”
Earlier this month, Hoani Hearne, 21, was rushed to hospital with “severe abdominal pain” after swallowing half a needle inside a strawberry.
He and friend Joshua Gane bought a punnet of strawberries from a Brisbane branch.
Other pins were found inside more strawberries, Mr Hearne alleges.
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