GROWCOM in association with Queensland Strawberry Growers Association are pleased to be advised police have arrested and charged someone with the original act of product sabotage regarding the needles in strawberries incident.
We congratulate Queensland Police for their efforts and hope this person will be brought to account to the full extent of the law.
It is disconcerting that the charges relate to just six or seven punnets of strawberries, proving that the majority of the 200+ incidents were copycats or false reports.
Controlling bad public behaviour, including product tampering, is a challenge beyond the control of growers. There was never an issue with the quality, integrity and freshness of Queensland’s locally grown strawberries.
It is therefore a shame the crisis was driven largely by social media which had a crippling impact on Queensland strawberry growers and to some extent other Australian fruit growers and exporters.
People who make claims of tampering online instead of contacting authorities should always be questioned. Those who make claims that are false, attention-seeking or attempting to gain financial advantage should face criminal charges.
Australia has strict agricultural standards to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of our fresh produce.
Our primary industry bodies and agricultural authorities vigorously and vigilantly defend those standards.
Controlling inappropriate consumer behaviour, including product tampering, is a challenge. However, the Australian fresh food industry, in collaboration with the Australian Government, is committed to ensuring that produce arrives for sale in the same condition that it left the farm.
All state governments and industries are currently undertaking an intensive review of the events and behaviours that caused and exacerbated the food tampering incidents.
On behalf of our growers, Growcom is appreciative to Queensland customers who recognised there was no substantial issue with strawberries and continued to buy the fruit as usual.
We will continue to work with industry to address issues throughout the supply chain to ensure an incident like this will not again bring an industry to its knees.
Controlling consumer behaviour, including product tampering, is a challenge.
NABBED: A woman has faced court over the berry tampering scandal.