Australian woman arrested in connection with embedded needles in fruit

Hugh Fox
November 12, 2018

A former farm worker accused of contaminating strawberries with needles will remain behind bars after being arrested in what Queensland police say is one of the most trying investigations they have conducted.

My Ut Trinh, 50, who worked for the Berrylicious/Berry Obsession farm in Caboolture, Queensland, was denied bail at Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.

Her arrest follows a complex investigation into the alleged contamination of strawberries in Queensland in September.

She was believed to have had grievances about her treatment at the farm and police will allege she had told people about exacting revenge.

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The first discovery of contaminated strawberries was announced by Queensland police in early September, and triggered a spate of copycat incidents across the country.

A woman has been arrested in Queensland in connection with the "strawberry scare" where sewing needles were found hidden inside fruit. The government raised the maximum prison sentence for fruit tampering from 10 to 15 years.

The woman, whose identity has not yet been released by police, faces seven counts of contamination of goods, according to a statement released by the Queensland Police Service.

Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker from the Drug and Serious Crime Group said the investigation was "major and unprecedented" with "a lot of complexities involved". "It was a crisis driven by social media and the only real victims were the strawberry growers, and to some extent other Australian fruit growers and exporters".

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The contamination scares resulted in supermarkets pulling strawberries off the shelves, and tonnes of the fruit was dumped at the peak of the growing season.

Mr Cridland said Trinh, who required a Vietnamese interpreter in court, was an Australian citizen and had complied with all police requirements thus far. There were also isolated cases of metal found in a banana, an apple and a mango, with the government saying numerous cases were thought to be "copycat" or hoaxes.

Queensland Strawberry Growers Association spokeswoman Jennifer Rowling welcomed the news and said the crisis had a "crippling impact" on the state's strawberry growers.

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