Farmers turn to metal detectors after finding needles in strawberries

Farmers turn to metal detectors after finding needles in strawberries

Strawberries contaminated with needles have been reported in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and New South Wales, Australia's ABC broadcaster reported.

Needles hidden inside strawberries have been found in two more Australian states, police said on Monday, adding that no injuries have been reported.

The devastated daughter of an all but ruined Queensland strawberry farmer has shared her family's distress at having to dump truckloads of fruit as a result of the needle contamination scare.

It follows the $100,000 reward posted by Queensland Police for any information that led to the arrest of a person responsible for placing needles in strawberries.

The sunshine state supplies Australia with strawberries from May to October and produces anywhere between 6,000-15,000 tonnes, or up to 60 million punnets, of the fruit each season.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association vice-president, Adrian Schultz, said "commercial terrorism" had brought the industry to its knees.

There is now also broader concern the national recall will have a negative impact on demand for strawberries across the market.

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"The sabotage of our strawberry industry is not just an attack on hard-working growers and workers, but it reaches into nearly every home and school lunch box", she told parliament on Tuesday.

At least 11 people across six Australian states have reported seeing needles in their strawberries, although a lot of them spotted the contamination before swallowing the fruits.

This comes after a massive recall across the Tasman, where the product was pulled from the shelves of a number of supermarkets after the discovery of strawberries spiked with across six regions in Australia.

SPIKED: Needles have been found in strawberries nationwide this week and are believed to be the work of a disgruntled employee.

"I would urge anyone with information that may be relevant to this incident in any way to contact police as soon as possible".

Queensland Police are now heading an investigation aimed at tracking down the source of the needles.

Empty shelves, normally stocked with strawberry punnets, are seen at a Coles Supermarket in Brisbane (AP)What is being done about it?

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Public fears also spread to neighboring New Zealand, where major food distributors, Foodstuffs and Countdown, have taken Australian strawberries off their shelves.

Australia's Department of Health ordered a review into the handling of strawberries after fruit containing sewing needles was found in supermarkets across Australia. "He's buggering the community and destroying the wider industry".

"When I saw it I honestly didn't know what to think". "The media is giving too much air for what it is", he said.

'The job is very, very clear. "It's a criminal act".

"When we get three (reports), it suggests there's something going on that we then need to withdraw that entire product", Dr Young said. "Just phoned the school after a friend had warned me & the office ladies are straight onto it thank god", another said.

The Premier has also said he will consider granting financial assistance to the industry to help those growers hardest hit by the affair.

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