Foodstuffs and Woolworths NZ halt all Australian strawberries distribution

A needle found in a punnet of strawberries in Queensland. There have now been four confirmed cases in NSW

New Zealand has pulled the Australian strawberries from its supermarket shelves, as police investigate after metal needles were found in punnets of fruit across the country.

At least eight needles have been discovered and at least one victim rushed to hospital in a crisis that has spread to four states and covers six different brands of strawberry.

Queensland Police are leading an investigation into the source of the needles, and the state government is offering a reward of $100,000 for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators.

"They are not only endangering people's lives, they are threatening an entire industry", Ms Palaszczuk was quoted in the Queensland Times as saying.

Queensland Police have also launched an investigation.

A spokesman for the Australian retail conglomerate Woolworths Group said its New Zealand supermaket chain Countdown would not place new orders with Australian growers.

"Coles has worked with our suppliers to implement additional control measures to ensure strawberries are inspected before they are sent to supermarkets", a spokesperson for the grocery store giant said.

It's not totally clear whether the incidents are all connected, or whether some are copycats.

The statement added: "As the products have yet to be forensically examined, it is unknown if the contamination is related to the original Queensland incident or a copycat".

One of the needles found in one of the strawberries from interstate
Camera Icon One of the needles found in one of the strawberries from

That includes Berry Obsession and Berry Licious strawberries.

In this September 14, 2018, photo, empty shelves, normally stocked with strawberry punnets, are seen at a Coles Supermarket in Brisbane.

Sewing needles have been found in strawberries in all six states, with New Zealand announcing this week it would pull the Australian-grown fruit from its supermarket shelves.

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.

"People should obviously be cautious, but there should be no fear in consuming strawberry products". "Strawberries are a great fruit, and people should continue to buy them, but everyone should simply cut them up".

Reports out of three Aussie states have strawberry lovers checking their fresh fruit carefully.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers' Association has speculated the act may have been carried out by a "disgruntled ex-employee", according to the BBC.

He said other growers were being forced to do the same, with others cutting back on staff following the strawberry contamination.

Customers should check before eating their strawberries.

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