Disgruntled ex-employee blamed for sewing needles found in strawberries

Dwayne Harmon
September 17, 2018

"These brands are believed to be sold in stores in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory", the statement said.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said anyone who had Berry Licious or Berry Obsession strawberries at home should not use them.

Police began looking into the potentially unsafe berries after a Facebook user on Saturday wrote that their friend took a bite of a strawberry and ate "half a sewing needle", according to the Palm Beach Post.

On Friday, Queensland Health announced strawberries from Donnybrook farms, north of Brisbane, were being pulled from supermarket shelves after three incidents - two on Thursday, and one on Friday.

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

Any strawberries bought from 13 September are safe.

"I'm just in shock, you don't expect that".

Chantal Faugeras posted on Facebook that she purchased the punnet from Wingham Coles on Wednesday, with three needles found inside three strawberries.

Dr Young said she was particularly anxious about those who may have frozen the strawberries for use later and may not still have the packaging.

NewsRegional has contacted the woman and Coles for further information.

"Any strawberries that you are certain are not the brands Berry Licious and Berry Obsession, are safe".

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"At this time, 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", the organization said in a statement.

She said that people can "chop them in half" if they remained concerned about the presence of needles.

There are fresh warnings that more brands of strawberries could be contaminated with sewing needles.

Victoria Police said what appeared to be sewing needles were located in two punnets in separate regional Victorian towns.

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

However, Chief Superintendent Lawrence said the police investigation was ongoing and detectives were examining every part of the supply chain to find the contamination source.

Queensland mum Angela Stevenson discovered her strawberries, which she had given to her son for school lunch, were contaminated after cutting into metal.

The supermarket withdrew Berry Obsession and Berrylicious branded strawberries from sale and advised consumers to return these products to their local branch for a full refund.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association believes a disgruntled farm worker may be responsible but police say they are investigating all aspects of the strawberry transit process.

"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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