CONSUMERS on Australia’s east coast are being warned to throw out any strawberries they may have bought in the last week after several punnets were found to be contaminated with sewing needles.
Anyone who has purchased a punnet of ‘Berry Obsession’ or ‘Berrylicious’ strawberries in Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria within the last week is urged to dispose of them immediately.
The warning comes after a Brisbane man bit into a strawberry and swallowed “half a sewing needle” on Sunday.
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It’s understood the man had purchased the Berry Obsession strawberries from a Woolworths store at Strathpine, on Brisbane’s northside.
“We then checked the other strawberries and found another sewing needle lodged inside one of them,” the man’s friend, Joshua Gane, said in a post on Facebook.
“We are now at the ER because he subsequently started experiencing severe abdominal pain.”
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Dr Jeannette Young from Queensland Health said the department was aware of three cases in total, one in Queensland and two in Victoria.
She said the affected strawberries were grown on a farm in southeast Queensland and sold in a number of different stores, not just Woolworths.
“While it is expected that berries picked early last week would now not be useable, many people freeze the fruit for later use,” Dr Yougn said. “If you are in doubt, just throw them out.”
“If you believe you have eaten a needle, we would recommend you speak to your doctor or call 13 HEALTH.”
The Queensland Police Service is investigating whether the strawberries were contaminated on purpose.
Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence from the State Crime Command said police were speaking with the owners of the affected farm.
“[It’s been done] obviously to injure somebody,” he said.
“Police have spoken to the person who operates the farm and they are assisting us with our inquiries.”
The affected brands have since been removed from shelves across the country.
Anyone with information that could assist police with their investigation is urged to come forward and call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
You can also report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.