Aussies of­fer re­ward amid straw­berry nee­dle scare

The Star Malaysia - - World -

SYDNEY: An Aus­tralian state has of­fered a large re­ward for in­for­ma­tion af­ter sewing nee­dles were found in straw­ber­ries sold in su­per­mar­kets, in what the fed­eral health min­is­ter de­scribed as a “vi­cious crime”.

The is­sue came to light last week when a man was taken to hos­pi­tal with stom­ach pains af­ter eat­ing the fresh pro­duce bought at a su­per­mar­ket in Queens­land state.

Since then, peo­ple have posted on so­cial me­dia pho­tos of other straw­ber­ries with small metal pins stuck into them.

Sev­eral brands grown in Queens­land have been with­drawn from su­per­mar­kets, and there have been mul­ti­ple re­ports of other cases in the states of New South Wales and Vic­to­ria.

“Who­ever is be­hind this is not just putting fam­i­lies at risk across Queens­land and the rest of Aus­tralia – they are putting an en­tire in­dus­try at risk,” Queens­land Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk said on Satur­day.

Her gov­ern­ment is of­fer­ing a A$100,000 (RM296,000) re­ward for any in­for­ma­tion that leads to the cap­ture and con­vic­tion of those re­spon­si­ble.

“I urge any­one with in­for­ma­tion that may be rel­e­vant to this in­ci­dent in any way to con­tact po­lice as soon as pos­si­ble,” she added.

Queens­land Po­lice told na­tional broad­caster ABC the con­tam­i­na­tion of the straw­ber­ries – usu­ally sold in small plas­tic boxes called pun­nets – was done “ob­vi­ously to in­jure some­body”.

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