SA hit as nee­dle found in straw­berry pun­net

The Advertiser - - NEWS -

FROM PAGE 1

The pun­net was im­me­di­ately re­turned to the store, prompt­ing staff to pull the re­main­ing stock from the shelves, and au­thor­i­ties were called in.

An­other three Food­land stores man­aged by the same own­ers im­me­di­ately re­moved the prod­uct, a Klose’s spokesman told The Ad­ver­tiser last night.

Po­lice urged any­one who bought Mal’s Black La­bel straw­ber­ries from Food­land at Lit­tle­hamp­ton to check the fruit be­fore con­sump­tion.

The dis­cov­ery comes days af­ter a Mid North man told The Ad­ver­tiser he found two nee­dles in a pun­net of Queens­land straw­ber­ries sold at a su­per­mar­ket in Jamestown.

He claims he then found a safety pin in a re­place­ment pun­net, re­sult­ing in an al­ter­ca­tion to which po­lice were called.

Both SA Health and SA Po­lice doubted his claims be­cause up un­til yes­ter­day there had been no re­ports of nee­dles found in straw­ber­ries in this state.

There were un­con­firmed re­ports last night that con­tam­i­nated straw­ber­ries were found in Tas­ma­nia.

Mal’s Black La­bel straw­ber­ries is a small grower based in Gin­gin, north of Perth. The com­pany is be­lieved to ex­port its pro­duce to the east coast through a third-party seller.

Danny Holdsworth, mar­ket­ing man­ager for the WA grower, said the re­port of the nee­dles be­ing found were “dev­as­tat­ing” for the com­pany.

“I would say it’s a copy­cat thing,” he said.

“It’s not that hard to go into a store and put a nee­dle in a pun­net of straw­ber­ries.”

The Queens­land State Gov­ern­ment has al­ready an­nounced a $100,000 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to the ar­rest and con­vic­tion of any­one re­spon­si­ble for the straw­berry con­tam­i­na­tion. Most of the es­ti­mated 80 straw­berry farms in Queens­land are in the Sun­shine Coast, Bund­aberg and More­ton Bay re­gions.

Some re­tail­ers have slashed the price of straw­ber­ries to as lit­tle as 25c a pun­net to shift them from their shelves.

Sab­o­taged pun­nets have been re­ported as far north as Townsville and as far south as Vic­to­ria.

But health au­thor­i­ties are re­luc­tant to de­tail numbers and lo­ca­tions of spiked straw­ber­ries, fear­ing this may en­cour­age copycats.

SA Health ad­vises con­sumers with con­cerns about other brands of straw­ber­ries to cut them be­fore eat­ing.

Tainted fruit should be im­me­di­ately re­ported to po­lice on 131 444.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion on peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for con­tam­i­nat­ing fruit should con­tact Crime Stop­pers on 1800 333 000.

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