Mettle of industry tested
THE WA strawberry industry has turned to metal detectors to protect its produce following reports of needles found in local fruit.
Allstates Fruit and Vegetable Merchants, which deals with up to 3000 trays of strawberries a day from Wanneroo growers, is the first to install a metal detector.
Allstates strawberries sales executive Le Bach told the Weekender its Canning Vale warehouse had bought the $30,000 US metal detector from a WA supplier.
“We are doing our best to calm the consumer and the buyers out there,” he said.
Mr Bach, whose family has been growing strawberries in the Wanneroo re- gion for 20 years, said pallets of strawberries passed through the metal detector were stickered with “security scanned” before being trucked to Coles and Woolworths.
He said detectors had not been introduced at the farmer level yet – which would be a costly expense for growers.
He encouraged people to “be normal” and continue to buy strawberries as they would any fruit. WA strawberries, which could be cut up, were safe.
WA Strawberry Growers Association president Neil Handasyde said the industry was “incredibly frustrated”.
A groundswell of support for the strawberry industry has sprung up on social media.
Social media users are encouraged to post a picture of themselves buying or eating strawberries – using the hashtag #smashastrawb – to show support for the industry.