Met­tle of in­dus­try tested

Wanneroo Weekender - - Special Report - Justin Bian­chini

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.

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