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Strawberry sabotage: WA not affected by needle contamination

16 September 2018

The initial brands affected by the contamination, Berry Licious and Berry Obsession, have already been removed from sale and are no longer in market.

The Queensland Police Service said it was investigating the contamination relating to sewing needles inserted in strawberries.

"We want everybody to check their strawberries before consuming them ... just cut them up, have a look", Supt Lawrence said.

Queensland Health issued advice applicable to all strawberries, saying the fruit is safe to purchase but until advised, consumers should cut them up before consumption.

In a follow-up statement released on Facebook Thursday, the group said the strawberries were seemingly "interfered with between the time they were packed and the time they were purchased".

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association says a disgruntled farm worker may be responsible, as the two brands affected, Berry Obsession and Berrylicious, came from the same farm. She said that people can "chop them in half" if they remained concerned about the presence of needles.

In the post, Ms Faugeras says her 10-year-old discovered a pin embedded in a strawberry while eating a punnet they had bought from the Coles at Wingham.

Acting Queensland Chief Superintendent of the State Crime Command Terry Lawrence said the evidence indicates the act was "obviously" meant to injure others.

Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Lawrence said officers were looking into unconfirmed reports of contamination involving other strawberry brands. If you are in doubt of the brand, throw them out.

Police believe the incident is a copycat.

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.

He says there is no link between the three most recent cases and the Warmuran farm that sparked an initial health warning after supplying contaminated berries to Queensland, NSW and Victoria under the brand names Berry Obsession and Berry Licious.

Police said they believed another case to be a copycat - a small silver rod was found sitting on top of strawberries in a punnet purchased at a Coles in Gatton.

Det. Supt. Lawrence said officers were now identifying past and present employees of the two farms concerned, which involves more than 100 people, with plans to interview them.

"As with all farmers who produce food for our nation, strawberry growers strive to ensure the quality, security and freshness of their produce and these spiteful incidents have been extremely disheartening and troubling", the association wrote in a statement.

"Our investigation is still open, we're not going to get into speculation".

A nine-year old boy bit into a contaminated fruit but did not swallow.

Anyone with information has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Strawberry sabotage: WA not affected by needle contamination