Needle in Strawberry Sends Young Man to Hospital

Virginia Carson
September 17, 2018

Canberrans who have bought fresh strawberries recently are being urged to check the brand after sewing needles were found in some berries interstate.

"It is now believed the contamination may affect six brands of strawberries - Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Love Berry, Donnybrook Berries, Delightful Strawberries and Oasis", NSW Police said in a statement.

"I found a needle, bit into it by accident and it snapped in half - or what felt like it snapped in half - and my knee jerk reaction was to swallow", the man told 7 News.

Investigations are underway after another strawberry contamination case has been reported in Townsville, in north Queensland.

Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence said the item was lying on top of the punnet and had not been inserted into the fruit.

Back in New Zealand, Foodstuff external relations manager Sue Hamilton says ahead of the New Zealand strawberry season kicking off, New World, PAK'nSAVE and Four Square stores are stocking some Australian strawberries.

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"We are now working with retailers nationwide to ensure that all Donnybrook stock is removed from sale", Dr Young said. "It makes it hard because you might need to dispose of them earlier, but just cut them up for safety's sake".

Several brands of strawberries have been withdrawn.

"Farmers are really nervous about it, obviously, and devastated something as very bad as this would happen to the industry", Ms Rowling said.

Queensland Police Service, who have launched an investigation into the potentially hazardous findings, revealed that affected brands include "Berry Obsession" and "Berry Licious", according to an update on the agency's Facebook account.

Queensland Strawberry Growers industry development officer Jennifer Rowling said the farmer had stopped all production of the fruit in response to the urgent product recall issued on Wednesday.

The strawberries believed to have contained the needle that injured Hoani Hearne was reportedly sold at a supermarket in Brisbane.

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Three punnets of Donnybrook strawberries containing sewing needles were found at Redbank Plains, Tweed Heads and Everton Park.

After the Facebook post, the police launched an investigation on September 9.

"For other brands, our advice is all strawberries should be cut up before they are eaten", Dr Young said.

A mother of three in Gladstone also found two needles in a punnet while cutting up the fruit.

"The idea of an ex-employee was put forward by the Strawberry Growers Association".

Then she instantly realised that she had sent strawberries from the same punnet to school in her older son's packed lunch.

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"At this time, [we] have reason to suspect that a disgruntled ex-employee may have orchestrated the occurrence, wherein sewing needles were found in a number of strawberries, in Queensland and Victoria", a statement from the association said.

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