Australia strawberry needle scare: Apple and banana fuel ‘copycat’ fears


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Australian police say sewing needles have been found hidden in an apple and a banana, amid a nationwide scare that has tormented the strawberry industry.

Since last week, Australians in every state have reported finding needles concealed in strawberry punnets.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has called it a “vicious crime” and ordered the nation’s food watchdog to assist in resolving the scare.

Police said the apple and banana cases, both in Sydney, were “isolated”.

But they added to more than 20 scares involving strawberries in New South Wales (NSW) alone, Supt Daniel Doherty said.

The first cases emerged in Queensland. In that state, authorities say they are investigating whether the sabotage is due to one person, or several people operating independently.

In the most serious case, a man was taken to hospital last week after eating a strawberry that contained a needle.

Police have stepped up warnings about copycat incidents, saying perpetrators – and those who make false reports – face up to 10 years in jail.

‘Evil’ tampering

The scare has spread to Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Several strawberry brands have been withdrawn, while New Zealand’s biggest grocers have stopped selling Australian strawberries as a precaution.

Health officials have advised Australians to cut up strawberries before eating them.

“This is a very vicious crime and it’s a general attack on the public,” Mr Hunt said at the weekend.

Queensland police say complicated supply chains in the strawberry industry have made for a slow investigation.

Two states have offered A$100,000 (£55,000; $72,000) rewards for information.

In Western Australia, Premier Mark McGowan said the people who tampered with fruit were “evil” and risked others’ lives.

Hit to industry

Strawberry prices have already dropped around the country, with prices in Western Australia now below the cost of production, local media reported.

The scare – which comes during the peak of production – has affected thousands of workers in an industry worth about A$130m a year, the federal government said.

Queensland has announced a A$1m assistance package for farmers in the state.

One manager of berry farms, Gavin Scurr, asked the public to continue buying strawberries.

“There’s a handful of cases in 100 million punnets but it’s really brought our industry to its knees,” Mr Scurr, from Piñata Farms, told radio station 3AW.

Strawberry producers had begun ordering metal detectors as a safety precaution, said Strawberry Growers Association of Western Australia president Neil Handasyde.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-45556584

3 thoughts on “Australia strawberry needle scare: Apple and banana fuel ‘copycat’ fears

  1. Isn’t this just a stunt – ALBEIT A DANGEROUS STUNT – to show Greg Hunt as a nice & caring Politician – ???
    GREG HUNT — > Who is appalled & disgusted by this heinous act.
    GREG HUNT —> Who demands condemnation & action for this criminally heinous act.
    Isn’t This Just Another False Flag in Play ???

    Let’s face it – the Liberal-Coalition party threw out the last 2 Prime Ministers being
    1. Tony Abbott
    2. Malcolm Turnbull
    Because they are afraid of losing FEDERAL OFFICE
    The Honorable Minister Greg Hunt is tainted by his former boss Malcolm Turnbull.
    MUD STICKS.

  2. Q: 🙂 Who are we – we the people – what makes us do the things that we do ? 😛

    A VERY INTERESTING ARTICLE:

    WOLF STREET – How Millenials Are Shifting The Housing Market by Wolf Richter.

    #- They’re settling in urban centres
    #- In many ZIP codes they’re already the majority
    #- And they spend their money on rent.

    For example in downtown Los Angeles, the two adjacent ZIP codes 90014 & 90013 (which includes SKID ROW) are being rapidly gentrified with a high-rise building boom.
    And the millennial population has soured over a 5 year period by 91% in ZIP code 90014 & by 60% in ZIP code 9013.
    These two ZIP codes have the fastest growing population of millennials ……
    None of these ZIP codes are cheap ……
    The area which sports a building boom of apartment buildings is adjacent to the central business district – the Loop.

    OKAY :
    So what is going on with the millennial population of the Western World ??
    What are they looking for & finding (?) by living on the outskirts of town at masive rent ?
    I can see East Melbourne – Fitzroy – North Melbourne – UNDER THE BULLDOZERS
    Spencer St is already growing sky high ( my own niece has purchased an apartment on the outskirts of town )
    The pissy & substandard little Hospitals & Medical Specialist Consulting Suites along Victoria Parade are already marked out for demolition – they will have to go – The Eye & Ear on the Park sits on billion dollar real estate – a public hospital for the common man no less.
    It all translates to massive $$$$ profits for someone.

  3. Interesting article

    CONSORTIUM NEWS – How Yasser Arafat Led The Palestinians to Trumps Deal of the Century by Professor As’ad AbuKhalil.

    The Trump administration is hard at work on the “Deal of the Century” that basically seeks to end the Arab-Israeli conflict by excluding the Palestinians from any negotiations about their future.

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