Countdown stops sale of Australian strawberries after needles found in Auckland

Mae Love
September 24, 2018

It has been almost a week since the first needle was found in a punnet of strawberries bought in Queensland.

Australia's fruit sabotage has spread to neighbouring New Zealand after a punnet of strawberries contaminated with needles was sold in an Auckland supermarket.

There have been over 100 reports of needles being found in supermarket fruit in Australia.

After an initial drop in sales and thousands of tonnes of fresh strawberries destroyed or dumped by producers after ongoing recalls, many farms in Queensland and WA reported customers turning up to the farm gate to hand-pick their own strawberries.

Countdown is warning customers to cut up strawberries before eating them after needles were found in fruit bought in an Auckland supermarket.

Countdown advised customers to cut up any Australian strawberries before eating them.

There have been more than 100 reports of needle contamination in strawberries as well as apples, bananas and mangoes.

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It's the first time an Australian-style incidence of spiked berries has been reported in New Zealand, and also serves as a particularly low point for all involved.

According to Britain's Daily Telegraph, the Australian government is due to hold a vote Thursday on whether to increase the prison sentence to 15 years from 10 years for those found guilty of tampering with food.

According to News.com.au, Stuart Smith, the acting assistant commissioner of the New South Wales police force, said: "In the last two days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries, and he'll be dealt with under the youth cautioning system".

Countdown said it had also alerted authorities in Australia.

Strawberry prices have already dropped around the country, with prices in Western Australia now below the cost of production, local media reported.

"We hope that it would not be a New Zealander doing a copycat. these will be the things that will be discovered", he said.

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