News

Urgent recall after needles found in strawberries

By Shepparton News

Consumers are being urged to throw out strawberries purchased over the past week in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria after needles were found inside the fruit.

Health officials and police on Wednesday said sewing needles were hidden in at least three punnets of strawberries supplied to Woolworths from a southeast Queensland farm.

Those strawberries were bought in Queensland and Victoria, but it is unclear if the brands involved, Berry Obsession and Berry Liscious, are supplied to other retailers.

"I'm out here today to advise people if they've brought any strawberries in Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria since early last week, that they should dispose of them," Queensland Health's chief health officer Jeanette Young said.

"If someone were to swallow a sewing needle it could get caught up in their gut."

Victoria Police is urging the community to check their strawberries after what appears to be sewing needles were located in two punnets in separate regional Victorian towns.

Police confirmed an affected punnet was found in Yarram and Sebastopol (Ballarat).

Queensland Police Service is leading the investigation, with Victoria Police’s Fraud and Extortion Squad detectives assisting.

Police launched an investigation on Sunday after a Queensland man reported swallowing a contaminated berry.

Two people in Victoria have since come forward after similar experiences.

Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence would not say at what point in the supply chain police believe the needles were planted.

He declined to name the farm involved but said investigators had been in contact with its operator and Woolworths representatives.

"It's been some time for us to look at this sort of investigation, quite some time," he said.

Woolworths removed strawberries from its shelves on Wednesday and consumers can be confident in purchasing them from Thursday onwards, Dr Young added.