National

Woman charged over needles in strawberries

By AAP Newswire

A Queensland woman has been charged over the strawberry needle crisis that forced supermarkets to pull fruit from shelves and farmers to dump it by the truckload.

The 50-year-old was charged on Sunday evening with seven counts of goods contamination.

Police say one occasion of aggravation contamination will be alleged, meaning the woman will face a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted.

She was arrested amid a months-long, multi-jurisdiction investigation headed by Queensland police after the discovery of needles hidden inside a punnet of strawberries on September 12.

"The Queensland Police Service has allocated a significant amount of resources to ensure those responsible are brought to justice," Serious Crime Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker.

The woman is expected to front Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday

The needle crisis spread to all six states and other fruit, with copycat incidents and a statewide campaign by the Queensland government to encourage consumers to back farmers by buying their produce.

The state government has previously revealed more than half the $1 million it put forward in response to the saga will be spent on an advertising campaign, with $250,000 allocated for safeguarding supply chain integrity.

Funds will also be given to the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association and Growcom to distribute to affected farmers.

The federal government also stumped up $1 million for the industry and rushed through laws to see those responsible face up to 15 years behind bars.

QSGA said it was pleased an arrest was made and called for copycats to face charges too.

"It was a crisis driven by social media and the only real victims were the strawberry growers, and to some extent other Australian fruit growers and exporters," it said in a statement.