SA hit as needle found in strawberry punnet
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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.