Nee­dle in WA-grown straw­ber­ries

The West Australian - - NEWS - Mitch Mott and Nick But­terly

A WA com­pany has been dragged into the grow­ing na­tional scare over con­tam­i­nated straw­ber­ries af­ter a nee­dle was found in a pun­net of fruit in South Aus­tralia.

South Aus­tralian po­lice last night is­sued an alert for shop­pers to check pun­nets of Mal’s Black La­bel straw­ber­ries af­ter a nee­dle was found in the fruit.

Mal’s Black La­bel straw­ber­ries is a small grower based in Gin­gin, north of Perth.

It is be­lieved to ex­port its pro­duce to the east coast through a third-party seller. WA’s Depart­ment of Health was in con­tact with the com­pany last night.

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 hard to go into a store and put a nee­dle in a pun­net of straw­ber­ries.”

The pun­net was bought from a Kloses’s Food­land store in the Ade­laide Hills.

There were no in­juries when the straw­ber­ries were eaten.

The pun­net was im­me­di­ately re­turned to the store, em­ploy­ees pulled the re­main­ing stock from the shelves and called au­thor­i­ties.

An­other three Food­land stores, man­aged by the same own­ers, im­me­di­ately re­moved the prod­uct.

South Aus­tralia Po­lice urged any­one who bought Mal’s Black La­bel straw­ber­ries from the af­fected chain of stores to prop­erly check their fruit.

The com­pany also ex­ports to Syd­ney and Mel­bourne.

There were un­con­firmed re­ports last night that con­tam­i­nated straw­ber­ries were found in Tas­ma­nia. The con­tam­i­na­tion cri­sis has now reached ev­ery State in Aus­tralia.

Fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt said the it was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the States to en­sure all fruit was safe. “This is a very vi­cious crime,” he said.

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