Needles hidden in Australia strawberries also seen in banana and apple


Both of New Zealand's major food distributors, Foodstuffs and Countdown, announced on Monday they are taking Australian strawberries off their shelves because of the scare.

Hoani Hearne, a 21-year-old in Queensland, was taken to hospital after swallowing part of a needle and developing severe abdominal pain on September 9, according to The Courier Mail.

WA-based grower Mal's Black Label strawberries, based in Gingin, 70 kilometres north of Perth, had been drawn into the crisison Sunday when two of their punnets were found containing needles in supermarkets in South Australia.

"We believe a lot of these will be hoaxes or copycat events, but the most important point is it's a diversion of resources, policing resources, when we want to find the true culprits", he said.

Stephanie Chheang posted the video of her family's crop being dumped as a result of needles being found in punnets across Australia, which has forced a complete recall of product.

A young boy has been arrested in Australia after admitting to putting needles in strawberries.

"The community is reminded that contaminating food is treated as a serious offence and a threat to public safety", a police spokesperson said.

Calling the perpetrator a "coward and a grub", Morrison called on parliament to quickly raise the maximum sentence for such deliberate food contamination from ten to 15 years behind bars.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: "This is putting families' lives at risk and it's also putting the strawberry industry at risk".

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They said their source said she may have been asked to do so, and should be making the official announcement herself soon. They have three adult children together and he and Chen have an eight-year-old son.

Smith said that all offenders involved in the pranks would "feel the full weight of the law", Seven News reported.

There have been reports of needles being found in strawberries around the country.

Others fear the rising number of cases is down to copycats.

State governments have offered a reward of 100,000 Australian dollars ($72,000) for information, while the federal government has pledged 1 million Australian dollars ($720,000) to help the industry.

Authorities are warning consumers to be cautious and cut open their fruit before consuming it after dozens of cases have been reported of people finding sewing needles in strawberries, bananas and apples. Other supermarkets have also pulled strawberries from their shelves.

"My mum Leena Lee Cufari and my step dad has worked years to build this empire they're sitting on now, they put all their money and effort in to build such a successful business", Chheang said.

"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.

The Australian government says it will introduce stricter criminal penalties in response to a fruit contamination scare that has alarmed the country.