'Disgruntled Employee' Accused of Putting Sewing Needles in Strawberries: Cops

Anna Jefferson
September 17, 2018

IT HAS been a week which Kevin Tran will not forget anytime soon.

Canberrans who have bought fresh strawberries recently are being urged to check the brand after sewing needles were found in some berries interstate.

And the whole debacle is far from over.

"The contamination relates to what appears to be sewing needles and pins inserted in strawberries".

In breaking news, the first reported instance of needles being found inside strawberry punnets in NSW has been reported.

Donnybrook operates three farms on the Sunshine Coast but distributes strawberries throughout Australia, including to Coles.

This week's recall has devastated strawberry farmers.

"It's just a terrible situation for everyone, not just the farmer involved".

She said that people can "chop them in half" if they remained concerned about the presence of needles.

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Three punnets of Donnybrook strawberries have also been sabotaged.

"We brought 2 punnets from Wingham Coles".

The bargain basement prices are due to a record oversupply of smaller berries that do not meet retailers' demand for extra large fruit.

He said police are "comfortable" that the issue with the "Berry Obsession" and "Berrylicious" brands had now been resolved, having been taken off the market.

Mr Tran says he just wants answers like everyone else.

Gladstone woman Angela Stevenson said she found two needles from one punnet of Berry Obsession strawberries in the past week. "But at this stage, please cut them up and just look to make sure they haven't been contaminated", Dr Young said.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association believes a disgruntled farm worker may be responsible but police say they are investigating all aspects of the strawberry transit process. "We'd be lucky at the moment to get between $3-4 a kilo", Mr Schultz said last month.

A Woolworths spokesperson later told Starts at 60: "Woolworths takes food safety very seriously and is working closely with authorities as they investigate this matter".

The scare later widened with a suspected copycat at a Coles supermarket in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane.

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Queensland Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence says its a complex operation, because the industry provides more than 250,000 punnets of strawberries in Queensland alone in a five-day period.

It was the fifth shocking incident to be reported this week.

When Van Dorp bit through the strawberry, he found that he had swallowed half a sewing needle. Realising her son had strawberries in his lunch box she immediately called his school.

The frantic mum called the school to ask them to throw the fruit away.

"It wasn't five minutes later they rang back and said it was too late, he'd actually bitten into it".

Angela Stevenson, a mother of two, bought Berry Obsession strawberries from Woolworths in Gladstone on September 11, ABC reported.

Amid the contamination, the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association on Wednesday said they suspected that the culprit was possibly a "disgruntled" former employee.

But police doubt that theory.

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