Needles Found in Strawberries in Australian City, Police Investigating

By AAP
September 23, 2019 Updated: September 23, 2019

Needles have been found again in some Australian strawberries after the criminal act first appeared last year.

Needles have been spiked through strawberries bought in Melbourne shops on two separate occasions in the past month, sparking a police investigation.

A needle was found in a strawberry bought at a Fairfield store on Aug. 25 and reported to police on Sept. 10.

Another strawberry bought at Eltham on Sunday had a metal spike and was reported on Monday.

Melbourne man David Chapman said it was his step-daughter who bit into the strawberry with a needle in it on Sunday.

“(She) bit right into it and a big needle sticking out of it, pretty much the whole length of the strawberry,” he told 3AW radio.

The girl pulled the needle out of her mouth but it felt like something was stuck in her throat.

She went to hospital and was told whatever was lodged in her throat was not a needle and would eventually pass.

Supermarket giant Coles is investigating the Eltham report.

“We have spoken to the customer to follow up their complaint,” a spokeswoman said.

“We have worked with our strawberry suppliers to implement additional control measures to ensure strawberries are inspected before they are sent to supermarkets.

“We have notified the police and will follow up with our supplier to investigate the matter.”

The Fairfield retailer has not been revealed.

“The community is reminded that anyone found to be contaminating food products can be charged with a serious indictable offence with penalties including up to 10 years in jail,” Victoria Police said in a statement.

Last year Australian strawberry growers were rocked as police across the country investigated more than 100 reports of fruit being contaminated with needles and other objects.

Many of the reports were found to be fake or copycat incidents but the scare prompted the federal government to rush through tougher penalties for so-called “food terrorists.”

It caused an eight per cent produce loss to the industry, worth about A$12 million.

The industry also received a A$1 million relief package, including A$350,000 to invest in tamper-proof containers, marketing and training.

By Kaitlyn Offer

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